Love might be the most fantastic theme of film history and fiction in general. Even when a movie genre isn’t romance, there’s generally a love story in the center of the film anyway. But of course, some films specifically devote themselves to the study of love.
If you have devoted yourself to the study of movie posters, then you are going to find the top 7 fonts used in the romance genre and why they were used right here in this article!
Romance films are stories based on romantic love, which means that they show the passion, pain, affection, and surprise involved in the relationship journey between two (or more) characters.
We all know the traditional formula: they meet by chance in an explosive first encounter, then they keep crossing each other’s paths, they feel the love starting to grow, but some temptations and responsibilities demand attention, there’s a chance of not ending up together, and eventually they find their way back to each other, and they do indeed end up together.
Some version of that narrative has been told countless times on the big screen, but we need to be fair here: romance movies can also fall out of the norm.
The best ones are the unpredictable ones, different and special. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the films that best achieved that exceptionality in recent and past history.
And most importantly, we’ll see which fonts the designers in charge of their posters chose to communicate to the target audience that they were about to see something special.
If you are completely new to fonts and typography and how they relate to movie posters, you will want to go here after reading this article.
Casablanca (Handwritten Custom Font)
Casablanca (1942) is considered the best romantic film of all time; it is also one of the most famous movies ever in general. Michael Curtiz directed this masterpiece, and it kind of beats every other movie about World War II (and man, there’s lots of them) because it was actually filmed during World War II, not only set in it.
The film stars a more-handsome-than-ever Humphrey Bogart in the role of an expatriate with a hardened heart that not that long ago used to be very much in love with a mysterious woman played by a simply perfect Ingrid Bergman.
What at first looks like the reunion story with an old flame soon turns out to be a devastating love triangle (involving a Czech resistance leader, played by a charming Paul Henreid).
The movie departs from the fundamental dilemma of choosing between two interesting and attractive men and elevates the stakes by asking the question, “Is individual love more important than collective duty?”
Because, no matter how dreamy Bogart is, someone still needs to fight the Nazis, you know.
Now, how did the designers of that time choose to invoke all of those greater themes, all the tragedy of war and star-crossed lovers, in their poster? Well… the funny thing is, they didn’t.
They chose a custom font that, although with the personal and unique characteristics of any handwritten lettering, it’s actually quite joyful.
They were brilliant because the choice still represents the spirit of the city that gives name to the film itself: it is warm and fun, and relaxed, never mind whatever terrible things are going on out there.
While you might have trouble finding that exact same font on the internet, there’s another similar font called Casablanca Noir Font, inspired by the one on the movie poster and follows its lead.
While the font has been released for personal and commercial use, it is no cheap uninspired design.
On the contrary, the classic typeface was designed by Billy Argel to be perfectly readable, with a clean, geometric style that calls the ’40s to mind.
While a bit more formal than the original lettering used in the advertising for Casablanca, the font should still work great in many other projects for romance movie posters. But there are times where handwritten title logos is not a good idea and that’s why we dropped this article:
Titanic (Trajan Bold)
Was someone just talking about love and tragedy in movies? I mean, Casablanca is sad, but not Jack-frozen-to-death sad. Titanic (1997) is the romance drama film by excellence.
There’s no love story more epic, no disaster more disastrous.
Directed by James Cameron and starring the young and beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic held the title of “highest-grossing film in history” for more than a decade.
Through the film, we follow the love story between two young members of different social classes and get glimpses of their worlds while knowing that death is on the doorstep.
This romance film succeeds in making us invested in a romance that we know for a fact is bound to fail. The tragedy of the sunken transatlantic steamship hits especially hard because we know that the event portrayed in the film is historically accurate.
It cannot have been easy to convey everything that this movie is in one poster. Still, at least one designing choice probably was: the font shouldn’t even have been a question because no other font says “Historical Epicness and Pathos” as good as Trajan.
The font used for the film’s original poster was Trajan Bold, designed by Carol Twombly in 1989 and published by Linotype. There’s a close enough font by Dukom Design that can be found as Titanic font.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (ITC Edwardian Script & Bordeaux)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) is a tragicomic romantic film directed by Blake Edwards, based on the novel of the same name that Truman Capote wrote in 1958.
An ethereal Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, a character that Capote conceived as a sort of American geisha: a society girl who doesn’t really have a job and never really lacks money, nor the company of some rich gentleman.
In the movie, this café society girl falls in love with a writer, but she doesn’t really know if she can permanently belong to anyone.
The main character’s dynamism and her classic taste are beautifully represented in the movie poster through the combined use of two very different -yet matching- typefaces: ITC Edwardian Script and Bordeaux.
Combining an ornamented calligraphy type with a formal and stylish serif was a brilliant way of capturing the soul of the film in its poster: at first glance, it appears superficial, like it belongs to the cover of a magazine; but if you look again, in the details you can see that it’s real and personal. The title in the poster is a phony, but it is a real phony.
Call Me By Your Name (Is This Even A Font?)
Love has as many forms as there are people, right? Hollywood knows that by now. Call Me By Your Name (2017), directed by Luca Guadagnino, was supposed to be a hidden jewel.
Because who would care much about a kind of indie LGTBQ coming-of-age romantic film set during an Italian summer in the ’80s? Spoiler alert: the whole world did.
Now Timothée Chalamet is a thing, and apparently, the film got the most prolonged standing ovation in the New York Film Festival in history.
Why did the movie work? Because it is accurate. It shows romance in a raw, passionate, painfully realistic, and intimate kind of way.
The font selected for the title in the movie poster had to show that too. Such a movie could have never gone for a block typeface on its poster.
In fact, the film didn’t even go for an actual font, period. If you pay attention to the A’s, the E’s, and the L’s that appear twice in the film’s name, the repeated characters do not even look equal to each other: this is a title indeed based on handwritten lettering.
The poster presents itself through typography exactly as teenage love feels: brutally honest and imperfect. But hey, if you’re starting to feel disappointed, because you planned on using that type in your own project, don’t worry: people on the internet felt disappointed before you, and they created an alternative font inspired by this one, and they -like true fans- called it Peachy by Iviiise Regular.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Hand Drawn Typography)
Handwritten fonts are a common stylistic choice for indie romance movie posters. The farther from the mainstream a story goes, the bigger the need to avoid overused fonts such as Futura or Trajan on the poster.
When a romantic story is fresh, when you can actually see the film without thinking of ten other movies with the same plot, then a custom-made font is probably a good idea for the poster.
That was the case with the poster for Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). This French historical drama, set in the 18th century, was directed by Céline Sciamma. It tells the love story between an aristocratic woman and the painter hired to paint her portrait, and its movie poster is a work of art.
The hand-drawn typography used on the poster was specially created for it by Scraps Labs in collaboration with Palaceworks.
Tony Stella did his usual magic in an alternative, illustrated version of this movie poster. The funny thing is that -even though the designers tried- that version didn’t work great with a handwriting style, so they went for a lovely serif font in the title.
You can either combine the warmness of hand-drawn type with the typical movie poster background based on a photograph, or you can connect the warmth of a watercolor drawing with the professional aspect of a block font.
A photograph background with a block font might be way too cold for a movie poster like this one, but an entirely handmade-looking poster might also walk too far from the conventions that the audience recognizes.
It is always important to find a balance between expression and convention when making movie posters, and both versions of the poster for Portrait of a Lady on Fire have achieved that.
Love Actually (Helvetica)
Nowadays, many movies didn’t settle for a simple love story between two characters but instead knitted a complicated fabric of intertwined storylines to tell many love stories at once.
New Year’s Eve (2011), Valentine’s Day (2010), and He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) are some recent examples. But they cannot fool us: we remember the first one, the groundbreaking one, Love Actually (2003).
This film, too, as its successors, had a killer cast full of movie stars. They all had to appear on the poster, but they couldn’t appear altogether because that would have been misleading regarding the movie’s content.
The names of the actors and actresses needed to be visible too, and there had to be some indication that this was a Christmas movie… so in other words: this poster was a designer’s nightmare.
With a poster that needs to be so heavily loaded with information, the only way to go is with a known, trustworthy block typeface to guarantee legibility.
The designers saw the light and chose to write “Love” in red color in Helvetica Black and “Actually” in black color in Helvetica Light. May the gods of design bless Helvetica.
Her (Helvetica Neue)
The world has changed so much in the almost 80 years that have passed since the premiere of Casablanca that we have gone from love triangles to a romance movie that doesn’t even star two visible people.
Her (2013) is as much a romantic drama as it is a science-fiction film. In this movie, a plot that could have sound ridiculously farfetched is made believable and heartbreaking.
A lonely man played by Joaquin Phoenix finds first company and later love in the voice of his virtual assistant (acted off-screen by Scarlett Johansson). So the man basically falls in love with artificially intelligent software, but somehow at the end of the film, we’re crying and unsure how that happened.
This movie is every bit as intimate and raw as Call Me By Your Name, but its central theme is our relationship with technology, so the poster wouldn’t work with a handwritten type.
This poster needed a font that would remind us of computers, and not a caricatured robotic version out of your next sci-fi movie poster, but an actual font from everyday use in real computers. So, of course, Helvetica won again.
The poster used a modified version of the classic font called Helvetica Neue that has a more structurally unified set of heights and widths than the original.
An interesting detail is that the tracking (the spacing between letters) in the word “Her” has been minimized to the extreme in the poster so that the letters kind of melt together. This slight alteration is a beautiful nod to how the movie’s protagonist gets closer to technology, to the point where the barriers between them fade.
Something unusual is that both love Actually and Her have the titles entirely written in lowercase in their posters. Lowercase letters don’t often appear in movie poster titles, and when they do, they’re generally reserved for romance movies.
Genre and Typography
Now that you are caught up on the basics of typography used within the romance genre, perhaps you will want to speed in the others. We dropped these amazing movie poster title articles for our readers.
- Top 5 Fonts Used in Thriller & Suspense Movie Posters
- Top 7 Fonts Used in Drama Movie Posters
- Top 5 Fonts Used in Science Fiction Movie Posters
- Top 5 Fonts Used in Horror Movie Posters
- Top 5 Fonts Used in Comedy Movie Posters
- Top 10 Fonts Used in Action Movie Posters
Curious about which fonts are used for movie poster credits or billing blocks? Check out the answer here.
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