Why Are British Movie Posters Called Quads?
While the U.S. (thanks to Thomas Edison) has majored on the portrait format One Sheet movie poster, for nearly a century of cinema, the U.K. has stuck to its own unique landscape poster format, the Quad.
But, why is the UK Movie Poster called a Quad?
In 1959, the UK adopted International standard 216 as a basis for consistent paper sizes. This standard (known as ISO 216) introduced the A4 paper size and is used across the world (except in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic).
Prior to that, British paper sizes were based on Imperial standards agreed in 1836. These paper sizes had unusual names, such as Elephant, Columbier, Double Pott and Crown.
The Crown format was 15 x 20 inches.
Two of these, the Double Crown, was therefore 30 x 20 inches. This format was frequently used for commercial advertising. Unsurprisingly, it was also commonly used for early Twentieth Century British film posters.
Prior to the Second World War, the Quad Crown, formed from four Crown paper sizes and therefore 30 x 40 inches, had also been used, often in a vertical, portrait format.
During and in the aftermath of World War II, paper was in short supply and the Quad Crown was the maximum poster size permitted by the British Government.
The format stuck and post-War British posters were most commonly the Quad Crown format, almost exclusively in horizontal, landscape format.
This name was colloquially shortened to Quad.
So, the British movie poster is called a Quad because it is formed from four Crown posters. Simple!
I am certain that the cost of producing alternate, landscape format posters has been a constant source of irritation for Hollywood studios. In a world where globalisation is leading to the loss of many local standards, I wonder how long the Quad will continue as the dominant UK poster?
What are your thoughts?
Adam and the Art of the Movies team.