If you are a loyal reader of this blog, you already know the importance of typography in the world of movie poster design.
The personality of a font always needs to be considered when designing the advertising campaign of a new film, but in the science fiction genre, it is imperative. A comedy can afford a kind of meh typeface for its title, but a Sci-Fi film can’t.
Science fiction movie posters almost always have to do with technology, or space, or both. The fonts used for these posters also need to refer to those concepts; they need to add to the world the filmmakers are trying to create.
These fonts almost certainly have to look computer-made, and they have to feel modern, never mind if they’re actually a hundred years old.
I’ll bet my title of typography nerd right here, right now, that you’ll never see a Sci-Fi movie poster with a handwritten font (I mean BESIDE from E.T. of course! That movie is not about aliens, it’s about friendship and love, okay? It doesn’t count).
Because handwritten fonts look intimate and human, but fonts for Sci-Fi movie posters? They need to appear as they belong to the walls of a spaceship, the screen of a computer, or the body of a robot, not to the secret diary of a teenager.
Let’s see some examples!
Eurostile Bold Extended
Futuristic design is one of the main characteristics of the science fiction film genre.
So there’s no fight when it comes to the first spot of this top 5; Eurostile Bold Extended has always been the typeface of the future. The geometric sans serif Eurostile was designed in the ‘60s by Aldo Novarese. Its variant Bold Extended is the most futuristic-looking version of the type: it is square but dynamic; it reminds us of a machine.
It has a strong personality but also legibility that makes it perfect for movie posters. More than anything, this font is perfect for Sci-Fi movie posters. It has been used so much that it has become one of those unspoken rules of design that help the viewers quickly recognize the kind of film that each poster is promoting.
Surrogates, G-Force, Dark Star, Red Planet, Independence Day: Resurgence, Terminator: Salvation, all of these movies use either this font or a very similar one. Series like Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek: Enterprise used some variation of this type for their logos too.
But the thing with science fiction movies and series is that they often need to include typography in the actual piece, not only in the posters. It is quite common for Sci-Fi films to show screens with information, backgrounds with corporation names, suits with brand marks, etc.
Eurostile Bold Extended is the go-to font every time a movie wants to give a sense of advanced technology. You can see it in the backgrounds, screens, and objects of SO many films, that the examples go from animated movies meant for children like The Incredibles, WALL•E, or Big Hero 6, to classics as Back to the Future or Apollo 13. And in between those two extremes?
Well, the sky is the limit, unless you have a spaceship too.
This sans serif was created by Morris Fuller Benton for the American Type Foundry.
The typeface is more than 90 years old, so I’m not kidding when I say that it has been everywhere for decades.
It is not only popular for Sci-Fi productions that flirt with the superhero genre (such as X-Men: Origins or Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), it’s also the absolute favorite one when it comes to Sci-Fi doomsday/dystopian future blockbusters: I, Robot, Moon, Oblivion, Ender’s Game, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, The Hunger Games, all of these films have some variation of this typeface in their movie posters, either in the title or in the copy.
Whether the plot is about aliens invading the Earth, robots taking over the world, or just about humans doing their best to ruin their own lives and their planet, you can bet the poster designers will consider Bank Gothic as a preferred option.
The type was also used for the Klingon subtitles in the film Star Trek: Into Darkness, so its place in science fiction cinema goes beyond posters too.
ITC Serif Gothic
The new films were targeted at an audience that didn’t particularly love the prequels. The filmmakers were trying to make it very clear that these new movies would be tied to the original trilogy more than anything before.
The Force Awakens is so hardcore a follower of the original film from 1977 that some people argue that… well, that it’s kind of the same film, just flashier and with a girl for protagonist this time.
But when the film was still being advertised, for the designers of the promotional posters, the main goal was to give the audience a new hope by reminding them of A New Hope.
The way they decided to do this was by using the font ITC Serif Gothic Heavy because it was the very same one that had been used for advertising that first film.
Star Wars is arguably the most beloved science fiction movie franchise of all time, so being THE font associated with it is a big thing. But if there is one other franchise that can compete with Star Wars for that place in pop culture, it is Star Trek. And guess what?
ITC Serif Gothic is THE font associated with it, too, because it was used for the first five Star Trek films.
What? You already thought that for once, Futura hadn’t made the cut into the Top XX Fonts Used in Movie Posters? Please, the typeface may be a hit in almost every other film genre, but its very name indicates that it was always meant for Sci-Fi.
Futura, just as most science fiction films, was designed thinking about the future. The geometric sans serif was made by Paul Renner, who took inspiration from the Bauhaus and created a work of design as powerful as the ones from the Bauhaus itself.
This font looks futuristic because it’s slightly too perfect to seem made by humans. Sans serif typefaces tend to be more timeless than serif types, and in this case, the font seems to survive the passage of time like it’s nothing: Futura looked fresh and new in the ‘60s, and it still does today.
Stanley Kubrick loved this font and used it in many details of his films, not only for movie posters. Films from many other directors had also included it when typography was needed for a science fiction plot; Alien and Star Trek: Into Darkness offer some examples.
The font was never out of place in these stories, and it is quite likely that the movie posters for major Sci-Fi motion pictures, such as Gravity or Interstellar, will last a long while before they start looking outdated.
Yeah, this one is not very subtle: there’s an actual typeface called Transformers created by Alphabet & Type based on the logo of the movie franchise.
That logo was custom-made for the Transformers movie posters, and to be fair; it looks as Sci-Fi as it gets. I didn’t want to mention this typeface because of an undeclared love for alien-robot-car-themed movies, but because the Transformers font is actually free and can be easily downloaded on the internet.
So if you are thinking of designing your own science fiction movie poster but don’t know what font to use, this one is always a good option to consider.
This type has all the best qualities of good typography for projects related to science fiction: it has square lines, just enough curves to suggest movement and dynamism, it’s interesting but legible, and it looks great with textures that mimic metal. Now you only need an amazing Sci-Fi poster to add it to!
The Other Genres
We just covered science fiction but the cool thing is that we also covered other genres and typography topics. Check out these fun articles too!
- Top 7 Fonts Used in Romance Movie Posters
- Top 7 Fonts Used in Drama Movie Posters
- Top 5 Fonts Used in Thriller & Suspense Movie Posters
- Top 5 Fonts Used in Horror Movie Posters
- Top 10 Fonts Used in Action Movie Posters
- What Font Do They Use for Movie Poster Credits?
- The Do And Don’ts Of Typography
- Do Graphic Designers Make Movie Posters?
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