Movie poster credits, also known as a billing, are contractually required verbiage that needs to be placed on certain movie posters, usually the one sheet or payoff, which you will learn about below.

The amount of verbiage is a lot! So it makes sense to use certain fonts that are good at displaying many letters without distracting the viewer from the actual design of the poster.

My name is Andy Storey, and I am a Movie Poster designer; and in this article, we are going to dive into movie poster credit fonts. A great movie poster will make you want to get your wallet out of your pocket, buy a ticket for the film, and buy all the popcorn you can eat. 

Therefore it needs to be designed so that it builds intrigue but doesn’t ruin the movie. Yet, it isn’t just about the artwork; it is about things like the font of the Title and Tag lines.

However, there are also rules and regulations for movie posters which I find surprising. So, it is a bit more complicated to design a movie poster than you think. 

Examples of Payoff Movie Posters
Examples of payoff movie posters.

What type of movie posters are there

Teaser

There are fewer rules in place for these style posters. It is usually a simple graphic and/or name, a general release date or coming soon, then usually the studio who made it. 

Miscellaneous 

A range of posters, and sizes for different media. For example, movie posters for billboards, bus stops, taxi tops, banners on websites, search engines, and social media. 

One Sheet Payoffs

This is the movie poster, which everyone will generally think of as the standard film poster template. The types of ones you will see in the cinema foyer or outside trying to tempt you in.

It will generally have the name of the film, a tagline, and the name of the actors and/or director if they are famous enough to drive ticket sales.  (Or if it’s in the actors, actresses/directors contract.)

Then at the bottom of the poster, there is some writing, which, let’s be honest, most of us ignore… these are known as billing credits or will be known as a billing block if you are using a template. 

The crazy thing is that this is the shortlist of movie poster types. We go into way more detail on all the types used nowadays within a movie poster marketing agency. Check out the 7 different types of movie posters article here.

Why do they use billing credits on movie posters?

If you have ever waited around for a marvel end credit scene, you will get an idea of how many people work on a movie… IT IS A LOT! 

These people obviously cannot be name-checked on the movie poster, but there are rules and regulations about what should be put on a movie poster to showcase who the leading players are in the movie. 

It is mainly an agreement between the studios, writer’s guild, and the director’s guild. 

An example of a billing block incorporated into the design of the movie poster vertically.

Why does the font of the billing credits matter?

The font matters because you are required to get a lot of information down on a poster, but you do not want it too to take up to much space and take away from the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.

To stop designers just making the font so small that no one would read it, it is a requirement that the billing credits take up a minimum of 15% to shut down any design loopholes. 

So, to get all the required information onto a poster, while keeping it to around 15% to 20% of the poster… similar types of fonts are used. 

These fonts are designed to cramp all that information onto the poster without making the poster look lame, so generally, the font needs to be tall, narrow, and have small spacing…otherwise known as condensed.  

Also, most posters use the rule of thirds, so you will usually see the credits centered in the bottom third of the poster.  However, you will see some strategically placed in other areas of the design.

What fonts can you use for billing credits on movie posters?

There are many free movie credit fonts you can download, and there are more unique ones you can pay for. 

Here are some fonts you could check out for billing credits:

  • Bee
  • SF Movie Poster 
  • Tall Dark and Handsome
  • Tall Skinny Condensed
  • Triple Condensed Gothic
  • Univers 39 Ultra Thin Condensed

If this is all freaking you out, there are many templates out there that you can design your poster on, and they will come with a set of recommended fonts for you to use.  Check out these Google Apps to see what I am talking about.

And if you are already a Photoshop user you can pick up 5 Free Movie Poster Templates and Dimensions here.

If you are interested in learning more about typography and how to use it in your movie poster design, then you will want to check out these articles:

What is usually included in billing credits?

There is a general flow of billing credits, and they look something like this:

  1. Title of the film.
  2. A film by / Directed by.
  3. The main studio or studios and production companies involved in making and financing the film.
  4. Any additional distributors, as often this can differ country to country.
  5. Name of the main actors. 
  6. Name of the writer, or writers.
  7. Then other notable contributions, like casting, costumes, edited, production design, and musical score.
  8. Then a poster is usually finished at the bottom with things like, company logos, social media accounts, websites, release date, and the rating stamp of the rating and which body rated it.

If you are designing a movie poster for a short film made by a film school student, then you will likely just have to follow the general standardized rules that you can find on any downloadable template. 

If you are designing a poster for a major blockbuster, then there will likely be pages on pages of rules and regulations you will have to follow.  The movie studio will send the specific rules to the agency designing the poster.

For example, movie stars like Tom Cruise can negotiate top billing, a director like Quentin Tarantino or the marketing executive might demand “A film by Quentin Tarantino” appear above the title of the film, and specific wordings may be needed like when a film was written by multiple people so “a story from” might be needed instead of “written by.”

Student Learning Photoshop

Final thoughts

Movie posters need to be striking and memorable, so there is a lot of artistic freedom you could have when designing the artwork, graphics, tagline, and the font of the movie title. 

However, there is a little less freedom when trying to design and place the billing credits. You only want them to take up around 15% of the poster or what is contractually obligated; therefore, you are limited to what fonts you can use, which is why condensed san serif fonts are used the most.

Look closely, and you will see most posters use tall, narrow, and skinny spaced fonts… they are the ones that are tried, tested, and work the best. 

So, I believe you are best sticking to this formula and spending your creative juices on the more essential aspects of the poster. 

And if designing movie posters for a living is intriguing to you, then I would suggest getting educated! We are currently producing an online class dedicated to movie poster design, and people that have signed up for our newsletter will be the first to be told…so sign up here.

Also, check out our Poster Grind YouTube channel, where you will find boatloads of free tutorials and movie poster content.