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Lee Daniels' The Butler Has A New Poster That Makes No Sense Whatsoever

An arty poster for your small movie is a great way to get attention, and Lee Daniels knows that as well as anyone. The striking, beautifully designed poster images for Precious: Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire helped keep that movie's buzz going from festival to festival, all the way to a Best Picture nomination. Daniels repeated the arty trick for The Paperboy, though that movie's fate in regard to critics and awards was a little tougher. Now it's time for The Butler-- excuse us, Lee Daniels' The Butler-- and the striking poster art is back. This new one you see above debuted over at Fandango (opens in new tab).

It's hard to say what's more on the nose, this American flag-draped figure or the one from the film's first poster, a butler in a similarly subservient pose raising a Black Power fist. Oh wait you missed that one? It's very real; check it out below:

So the image of the man wrapped in the flag is striking, and you can't argue with that list of names off the side-- it's got to be the most diverse cast this side of, uh, Lincoln maybe? But there's a lot going on in this poster that I can't figure out at all. The tagline, "One Quiet Voice Can Ignite A Revolution," really has nothing to do with the central character of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who served as a butler in the White House from the late 1950s through the mid-80s. As you can see in the film's trailers, Cecil is happy to be employed in a steady, well-paying job and is deliberately apolitical so he can hang on to his job; when his son, played by David Oyelowo, becomes involved with the Freedom Riders and eventually the Black Panthers, Cecil is furious. So how is Cecil being credited with sparking a revolution here?

Then there's the hand-scrawled font for the names and the title, which, again, is striking, but doesn't have a whole lot to do with the story at hand. It's a story about grown-ups, set largely in the White House-- handwritten signs, seemingly with Crayons, don't really have anything to do with it. It's like a design decision made based on what looked cool, but someone who quite possibly hasn't even seen the movie.

It's not easy to make a visually gripping poster for a movie that takes place across decades and will largely be sold based on its ensemble cast-- you run into dangerous "random floating heads" territory really fast. But this shot at making something dynamic for Lee Daniels' The Butler grabs your attention, then completely falls apart after a second glance. Will the movie itself be similarly weak? Find out for yourself when it opens August 16.

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend