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The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
This poster featuring Woody Harrelson wearing nothing but a pair of star-spangled underwear, posing like Jesus between a woman's legs, was banned by the Motion Picture Association of America. The then president of the MPAA Jack Valenti told the film's director Milos Forman that he was concerned the poster would inflame conservative forces, something Valenti needed to be wary of. Ironically, the movie itself focuses on the subject of censorship.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
The Eva Green Sin City: A Dame to Kill For poster, banned for "nudity — curve of under breast and dark nipple/areola circle visible through sheer gown."
The Zero Theorem (2013)
The last chapter in Terry Gilliam’s dystopian-satire trilogy (along with Brazil and 12 Monkeys), The Zero Theorem, is set to appear in theaters on September 19. The MPAA banned this poster for the film features Waltz’s character Qohen Leth — a reclusive computer hacker who attempts to uncover the secret of human existence — in the fetal position, floating through space, baring his backside.
The Rules of Attraction (2002)
The poster for this Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, depicting stuffed animals in various sexual acts, was banned in the US, though permitted in Canada and the UK. The use of children's toys is discouraged in any advertisements not intended for children.
In this 2007 horror-comedy film, Dawn O’Keefe is afflicted with vagina dentata, a condition that produces a horrifyingly-located spare set of teeth. An alt poster for the film’s UK release was banned since it displayed an X-ray image of O’Keefe’s chompers, deemed inappropriate.
Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
This controversial documentary about the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002, had a controversial poster to match. The image, featuring a man in a hood being led away by two soldiers, is a composite of two real photographs. Ultimately, despite the lack of gore, blood or sexual content, the MPAA rejected the poster for its depiction of torture, deemed unsuitable for children.
This Hungarian poster for Steve McQueen’s Shame, a film that launched Michael Fassbender's penis into the spotlight, was banned in Hungary for the display of suggestive font.
Yogi Bear (2010)
The catch phrase of this banned poster "Great things come in bears" was thought to be a double entendre. The intent of this poster for this Yogi Bear children's movie might have been trying to attract some of it's original fans from the character's 1958 debut.
I Spit On Your Grave (2010)
This remake about the brutal torture and rape of a woman tried to promote that this was a story about female empowerment through her acts of revenge. Contrary to that message, this poster features the victim's bare backside, possibly implying that the film is a sexy depiction of rape.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night was one of the earliest ad campaign controversies in horror cinema. Unleashed one month before Christmas, the film’s posters and TV spots featured a maniacal axe-wielding Santa. The theatrical release was picketed, the posters were banned and the film was eventually yanked from theaters.
Couples Retreat (2009)
Usually movie posters get changed for American audiences and not the other way around. The original poster for Couple's Retreat was altered in the UK and eliminated the the African-American couple (played by Faizon Love and Keli Hawk). Universal received enough complaints of racism from British viewers that the studio scrapped plans to use the poster elsewhere.
Saw II (2005)
The Saw franchise is incredibly gory, revolving around the character Jigsaw who tortures his victims physically and psychologically. The MPAA rejected this image for the obvious depiction of severed fingers. The approved version made it less clear that the fingers were detached.
The Heat (2013)
The marketing team behind Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s buddy cop film The Heat came under fire after the release of a UK poster with a cruddy Photoshop job. McCarthy was barely recognizable after her face was slimmed, smoothed, and altered. The results were atrocious, the Internet was outraged (unofficially banning it), and McCarthy’s weight was yet again the unfair target of other people’s insecurities. The same thing happened to her when the Bridesmaids poster was released, featuring a noticeably slimmed-down version of the actress.
What A Girl Wants (2003)
This Amanda Bynes film about an American teenager discovering her father is a wealthy British politician, seems unlikely to stir up controversy. This poster was not censored or banned by the MPAA, but it was altered for the DVD release. Warner Bros. decided that showing Amanda Bynes giving the peace symbol might have been interpreted as a war protest (it was 2003 and the US was fully engaged in Irag). The image on the DVD has Amanda Bynes' arm down at her side.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
The issue with the poster for this Disney classic is the that there's a spire in the castle that resembles a phallus. As a result, Disney changed the posters for some home video releases. A year after the film was released the phallus was brought to the public's attention, and rumors spread about its' origins. The myth involves a disgruntled Disney employee who, when he found he was being laid off, drew the phallus to get back at the company. The truth is that the resemblance was inadvertent.
The poster for this Nicolas Cage film about a very bad cop, was banned because Cage's character is pointing a gun at another character. The MPAA takes issue with gun violence directed at somebody, but no problem with a gun in general.
South Korea’s Media Rating Board banned the poster for Park Chan-wook’s horror tale Thirst, about a Catholic priest who is transformed into a vampire after a botched medical experiment. In the image, Song Kang-ho’s bloodsucking clergyman is shown being strangled by a naked Kim Ok-bin, her legs in the air. The sexually suggestive image was banned since it featured a priest. The poster was altered, removing the actress’ legs to make it more suitable.
This poster was pulled for depicting a child with a weapon; after moving the knife to the adult's hand, this later version was approved.
Coco Before Chanel (2009)
This poster was banned in France due to its depiction of fashion icon Coco Chanel having a smoke. This violates a French advertising law which prohibits the “direct or indirect” promotion of cigarettes, a response to the huge numbers of smokers in France.
The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)
This poster, featuring a bound, hooded figure being dragged away in a sack, was censored by the MPAA for horrifying imagery and the depiction of torture. A modified poster was eventually allowed to be displayed, switching out the arm for a leg. Possibly because the hand makes it clear that the victim is alive, and torture could be considered more horrifying than murder.
Ali G Indahouse (2002)
The Advertising Standards Authority banned this poster in the United Kingdom after they reportedly received over 100 complaints after just 5 days. The organization ruled the nude image (and Cohen’s hand) offensive and pornographic.
The Last Exorcism (2010)
The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK banned this poster after many complaints, stating the image of a young girl wearing a blood-splattered dress suggested she had been violently sexually assaulted.
The MPAA doesn't seem to have much tolerance for guns when they are pointed at people. In the case of this banned James Bond entry, the gun was pointed directly at the audience, which lead to the creation of this poster, with the gun pointed upwards.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Less obvious at first, a look towards to bottom of this poster for a movie about a porno depicts Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks' characters giving/receiving oral sex. This poster was censored for adult content in the US, despite the fact that both actors appear fully clothed.
The Road to Guantanamo (2006)
This poster for a documentary about torture, depicts a man in chains with a sack over his head. Naturally, it was deemed inappropriate for theater goers (i.e. children) by the MPAA, for its portrayal of torture. After eliminating the head covered by the sack, this poster was ultimately approved by the MPAA.
The Outlaw (1943)
Director Howard Hughes deliberately created this controversial movie poster, in order to entice movie goers. Despite the fact that the poster contains no real nudity, partial or otherwise, the focus on the subject’s ample breasts was enough to warrant a ban in 1943.
Final Destination 5 (2011)
The image of a skull being skewered by iron rods, one of the many possible ways the characters of the Final Destination franchise could die led to 13 complaints that it traumatized children. The ASA (The Advertising Standard Association) in the UK, banned its use on buses and trains.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
In this second installation of the film versions of Sex and the City, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is shown gliding through the deserts of Abu Dhabi. The poster was banned in Israel, not because of its Arabian content, but because the title boldly features the word 'Sex.'
Camp Hell (2010)
This movie poster focusing on the actor Jesse Eisenberg, was a retitled re-release of the failed 2010 thriller Camp Hope. This attempt to capitalize on Eisenberg's new found fame failed after the actor filed a lawsuit for misrepresentation, on the grounds that his appearance is merely a cameo done as a favor to the filmmakers.
Vampire Killers (2009)
Are the lesbians the vampires or the killers? The UK theatrical ads hinted towards the former, but mainly sold the fact that there were lesbians. CBS Outdoor got in a huff about the title and banned the poster from all UK transport.
This New Zealand horror flick about incest sold its grim vision with an image of full-on, WTF? surrealism. The movie's website proudly claims that this poster was banned, presumably either because of the crotch gun or because of the overall creepiness.
David Fincher's thriller tried to create controversy by showing Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) naked, with her pierced nipple on display. Ironically, the biggest deal wasn't made about the nudity but the protective arm around Lisbeth from Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), which fans of the novel thought misrepresented the characters' dynamic. Although not banned, this version with less obvious nipple display was more widely used.
Spike Lee's satire about Hollywood racial stereotyping took the provocative step of reclaiming historical images of racism, like minstrels in black face, for its ad campaign. Pundits not in on the joke accused poster designer Art Sims of racism, until they realized that Sims, Lee's long-term colleague was himself African-American.
This poster of glamorous assassins Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy displaying their dangerous sexiness by holding very big guns was banned after receiving 17 complaints. The ASA banned them in the UK because the ads "could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorizing the use of guns".
Five Senses of Eros (2009)
This Korean romantic drama captured the public's attention with its booty-ful poster image. Apparently, the poster saw the first buttocks ever displayed in a Korean movie advertisement. Ironically, the owner of said buttocks doesn't appear in the film but was a model.
This horror film about deadly activities in the London Underground chose the obvious image: a bloody hand trying to escape a Tube train. Inevitably, Transport For London didn't want the poster shown on the Underground, despite the fact they'd helped the production during filming.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
In this image, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) shares poster space with a naked woman who is the Korova Milk Bar statue. Although used globally, the poster was deemed too racy for American audiences and the statue was given a bra and panties. Later versions of the artwork removed the woman entirely.
Hostel: Part II (2007)
This poster for the horror movie involving cannibalism was only approved after the receipt from the butcher shop proved the meat wasn't human. Lionsgate's marketing guru Tim Palen chose this image of boar's meat to help it stand out from other movie posters.
Les infidèles (2012)
France's premier comedian, Jean Dujardin, appears in this saucy campaign for his film, sort of a Gallic version of Men Behaving Badly. Parisians complained the image was inappropriate for children because they were seeing "sex on the street" and the posters were pulled.
The Roommate (2011)
This film makes a big deal of its campus setting with a prominent photo of a university building. Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas was surprised to see its administration building appear in a movie poster and threatened a lawsuit. It later transpired the shot was legally licensed from iStockPhoto and Photoshopped into the poster.
The Other Guys (2010)
Inept cops Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell tackle crime, wielding standard issue police firearms…Except in San Francisco, where a municipal law against pro-gun advertising meant that the actors were instead shown holding pepper spray or raising their bare fists.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
Kirby Dick's documentary about censorship in film took an appropriately taboo-busting approach to advertising by branding a naked woman's ass. Although never officially banned (the ad wasn't submitted to the MPAA, for obvious reasons) but vetoed by several major newspapers. The official outdoor version had to amend the ass to comply with regulations.
This 3D horror film made a big deal out of its then-rare gimmick, mimicking the "blood flying off the screen" from a facial knife wound. The ASA received complaints that the image glorified knife crime and pulled it.
Teenage Mother (1967)
This exploitation film pitched its controversy with the tagline, "the film that dares to explain what most parents can't!" while promising actual childbirth footage. Not exactly unexpected, but the sheer existence of the film outraged and offended. The more medically aware might also have baulked at seeing a doctor holding a newborn by his feet.
Dick Tracy (1990)
This advanced release poster was pulled before it even hit theaters. The film was produced by Touchstone Pictures, which is owned by Disney, and they have a zero "Dick" referencing policy.
9 votesMovie Poster Trends (21 lists)
list by EmmaBell
Published 3 years, 2 months ago
3 votesEmma's Lists (19 lists)
list by EmmaBell
Published 2 years, 11 months ago
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