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Pet Peeve: When A Poster Spoils the Last Shot of the Movie

Last year I shared one of my biggest pet peeves with all of you: when a movie trailer contains major spoilers. That happened with The Lazarus Effect, as well as several other films I mentioned. As it turns out, it’s not just trailers that spoil movies (shocker, I know)! All too often a film’s poster will give away key scenes from a movie. Sometimes they even give away the film’s ending. It could be argued that it’s not really a spoiler if you don’t know the film’s ending, but the viewing experience is tainted if you’re sitting there watching a movie and suddenly realize you’ve already seen the film’s ending.

I was recently enduring (yes, that is the right choice of words) the 2012 Todd Lincoln bomb The Apparition because I’m working on a post that ranks all of the Dark Castle Entertainment horror films (What can I say? They’re guilty pleasures of mine.). While doing a bit of research on the turd, I happened across the film’s poster, which looks like this:


Based on the domestic box office gross of $9.6 million, it would seem that most of you reading this opted not to see the film. If that is the case, good on you! You dodged a bullet. The Apparition consists primarily of watching Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan walk around their house…doing nothing. At a scant 82 minutes, the film is still far too long. It feels like a short film that was stretched out to feature length. The mostly talented cast of Greene, Stan, Tom Felton and Julliana Guill are completely wasted, but I digress. I did not come here to criticize a film that doesn’t need anymore criticism (its 3% Rotten Tomatoes score is harsh enough). I came here to bring up a marketing trend that just doesn’t make any sense. Look at the poster above, and then watch the clip below. I should warn you that this video showcases the final minutes of The Apparition, but you weren’t going to watch the whole movie anyway, right?

You can’t even get mad at me for posting spoilers here, because the film’s poster is one big giant spoiler! Admittedly, the ending is the best part of The Apparition, so the studio didn’t have much else to work with. It’s almost as if Lincoln had this ending in his head and  wrote 75 pages of a screenplay just so he could get to film this one scene. The quality of the scene aside, why would any studio choose to spoil a movie’s ending with its poster? It does not make any sense.

It’s not like this is the first time this has happened either. Does anyone remember the poster for Quarantine, the 2009 remake of [REC]?


Maybe this one shouldn’t be qualified as a spoiler since Quarantine is almost a shot-for-shot remake if [REC], but how many regular Americans (and by “regular” I mean people who don’t live and breathe horror like us) do you think knew that going into the movie? This is a mean-spirited joke that isn’t particularly funny.

As you may know, The Apparition and Quarantine are not the only movies to pull this little stunt with their marketing. Here are a slew of other films over the past few decades that have deemed it necessary to feature the film’s ending in the poster:

carrie   drag-me-to-hell

prometheus   the-wicker-man

Why do studios do this? Clearly it’s not that they think the movie is a stinker because the four posters above are all for great movies (unless you’re not a Prometheus fan, anyway). It does seem to be a lack of confidence on their part though.

What other posters have you seen that feature major spoilers? Why do you think studios deem it necessary to do something like this? Let us know in the comments below!



  • Kevin Maginnis

    Advertising for movies is kinda odd. The movies themselves are designed to introduce to it’s plot and characters but if you’ve already seen a poster or trailer you already know all of the introductory info. Knowing all the plot information makes movies into a really dull experience.

    • THGrimm

      It would be interesting to play with that and acknowledge stuff is given away and have the movie take off from an advanced point.

  • I feel the same way about trailers, but I understand it from a marketing perspective. You want flashing advertising materials to get butts in seats. The viewer doesn’t know the imagery is from the ending until you’ve already plunked down your money to see it – at which point the marketing department doesn’t care about you anymore.

    I think the worst offender is this Australia poster for 10 Cloverfield Lane:

  • Tiger Quinn

    You wouldn’t know those were the last shots until you saw the movie, and even then they don’t really “spoil” the movie – in Drag Me to Hell, I’d expect that demons are trying to, you know, drag her to Hell, and whether I’d seen the movie or not, that wouldn’t “spoil” it for me. I think you’re confusing general impressions about the movie’s theme than actual moments, even if they end up being one and the same. The girl with all the hands all over her – I could reasonably expect that whatever is after her is going to get her at some point – if anything I’d say that final shot in the tent is more irritatingly lazy than anything the poster can be blamed for.

    • K-Dogg

      Completely agree Tiger, I was thinking the exact same thing, you just put it in writing for me 🙂

  • Mamet006

    They’re only spoilers if you know they are.

    • But does it not bother you when you see the ending and you realize you’ve already been shown the ending? It becomes a spoiler after the fact, but I still believe it diminishes the impact of the film.

      • disqus_uPh3WDxbQy

        Agreed Trace. I hate when a scene from the movie starts looking like the poster and you know what’s going to happen as a result.

      • Mamet006

        No it doesn’t ruin it because I only realize it’s a spoiler when I finally see the moment. Not really much of a difference if it was on the poster or not. After-the-fact spoiler is harmless. The first shot of the first trailer of the Dark Knight ended up being the very last shot of the actual movie. No harm done to anyone.

  • Braker

    Yep, you wouldn’t know that until you saw the movie, but hey, the author wants to say hey, I’m snarky and smarter than you and smarter than the movies so let me call attention to this.

    • Ha, thank you for that. But no, that is not what I’m trying to say. I’m just saying that I really hate it when I’m watching a movie and realize that I’ve already seen the ending. I think there are other ways to market a movie. Thank you for YOUR snark though!

  • Elizabeth

    Half the time trailers and posters are created before the movie is even partially shot so I wonder if they’re just working with what’s available. Also, enough shots and scenes are included that don’t end up in the movie, I think a lot of people ignore them.

    What really annoys me is when a studio releases so many trailers that watching all of them basically means you’ve viewed the entire movie. I felt like that after the Miss Peregrine media blitz.

  • carlos.filipe

    Trailers sometimes really get to show, if not the spoiler of twists, the entire plot of the movie. Now i just watch the teaser, and thats it… for star wars i watched the first 30 second, then 6 trailers followed – more never seen footage – yeah i know its from the movie that comes out in a month. Have you seen the Mummy trailer? amazing footage from first part of the movie… its an entire clip from the movie, then they go to the trailer, why…

  • Kaijudude

    My Pet peeve is when the previews pretty much give away the movie.

    • Satanzilla

      Yeah — people don’t seem to care about being told a story anymore though. In fact they actively seek out spoilers. Like that site AICN (does anyone even read that anymore?) — aka “let’s ruin as much of the story as we can for the viewer.”

      • lostboy408

        /Film does that too. Months before the movie comes out, they are constantly posting articles like “These are the characters who make a comeback for the sequel”…

        You’re not even going to let see the damn movie first. You’re just going to straight up tell me who survives, huh?

        I don’t even read those articles, but you’d be shocked to find out how plastered all over the site those articles are. It was most egregious when The Force Awakens was going to be released.

      • Kaijudude

        This is true, but in a world of false info ( remember the whole the TMNT are aliens debacle? ) it doesn’t make much sense.

        • Satanzilla

          Sorry I don’t follow what doesn’t make much sense.

          • Kaijudude

            Doesn’t matter , i was just trying to point out the ridiculousness of activley seeking out spoilers for a movie you want to see.

          • Satanzilla

            Well, I completely agree with that.

            But there are people who don’t!

            I remember when Ain’t It Cool News was first prominent, there were huge numbers of people just dying for spoilers — in fact, so many spoilers got shared, they’d sit in the theater knowing pretty much everything that was about to happen already. I can’t even imagine finding that interesting but people did! And still do.

  • CLK

    You won’t realize until you see the movie, unless you’ve actively sought spoilers, and if that’s the case then it’s your fault.

  • Fracassi

    In the case of Drag Me to Hell, I think the title of the movie was kind of a giveaway, lol. Probably not as bad as the title, John Dies at the End, though.

    • Yeah I don’t think the DMTH one is that bad because the ending is still so affecting even if you know that’s where it’s going. Plus, they even show it in the trailer.

  • Satanzilla

    What’s depicted on the poster does not need to be a literal representation of what’s going to happen in the movie.

    What I REALLY hate is when the trailer gives away plot points, which these days they almost always do. In fact, nowadays, once you’ve seen the trailer you don’t really even need to see the movie.

    Also LOATHE the bombardment of spoilers you get on previews for many tv shows for the next episode. This is especially horrible on AMC and FX.

  • HarmsCaleb

    I would put the Evil Dead Remake poster also.(The one with Mia walking) I mean, it showed her missing her hand haha.

    • Austin

      Well, it just looks bent at the elbow.

  • OctoberLIBRA

    Mine as well add that garbage Mummy to the list …

  • Ben Edwards

    Oh god The Apparition was trash! Made the mistake of watching it on Netflix when I was bored one day. What a waste of 80-odd minutes.

    • Adam Matthews

      i had to watch the scene posted above because i couldn’t make it that far when i actually tried to watch the full film

  • Jesse Bickers

    I loathe this as well, Trace. Seems as though as soon as the poster picture comes into frame at the end of a movie, that’s all I can think about. I’m no longer intrigued with the movie/ending—especially when it’s an ending with a twist—because all I can think about is how they put the ending to their film on their (promotional) poster.

    Really grinds my gears.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    boy does quarantine SUCKS

  • bigniggitynuts

    Biggest offender is the poster for What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.

  • CrackTheSkye1990

    It’s even worse when they have trailers ruin the whole movie. Some of the old italian horror movies I’ve watched like Zombie, City of the Living Dead, etc would basically show the movie’s highlights in the whole trailer. Luckily I watched the trailers after the movie, but what’s the point of seeing a movie if you’ve seen it and know what happens before seeing it?

    • CrackTheSkye1990

      The Carrie poster isn’t too much of a spoiler. I mean yes it shows what happens at the end but only a slight tease of what happens.

  • Lirabelle

    Honestly, I just wish The Apparition had been a better movie.

  • LoveAnimation

    The people that makes these movies obviously want as many people to be interested in seeing them as possible so they use the most cool or interesting stuff that happens to grabs peoples attention and that often happens at the end and i honestly does not understand what the big deal is because only because you recognice a scene from a pster or from a short moment in a trailer it wont really spoil or ruin anything.

  • darklordofgorgoroth

    And this is the reason why people complain about Jack “obviously” being mad from the get-go in The Shining, when he’s not. A whole mundane month goes by before anything happens, we just skip it.
    The trailers and the poster utterly gave away the fact that Jack went crazy, thus it wasn’t surpising. It was expected

  • Jesse Sikora

    My Pet peeve is when the movie isn’t good.

  • Jay Lamm

    My pet peeve is when I’m working at my soup restaurant and people come in not knowing what they want or how to order. It’s very simple: be quiet, approach the counter when I look at you, place your order, step to the side, pay the lady at the cashier, receive your soup, be on your way.
    If you question why you didn’t get bread or make any other extraneous comments I will take the soup back from you and ban you from the restaurant for X amount of time.
    Why is that so hard?

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