Why Are Most Modern Movie Posters Double-Sided?

Today, nearly all movie posters (one sheets and quads at least) are printed double-sided.

It wasn’t always that way. While you may stumble across double-sided posters from as early as the 1950s, it wasn’t until the late 1980s / early 1990s that it became common practice.

It is more difficult and it is more expensive. From the front, you can’t really tell the difference, so, why do it at all?

To answer that, we are going to take a look at an advance poster for the 2008 James Bond film “Quantum of Solace”.


An original movie poster for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace


This fantastic poster was produced single-sided and double-sided. We have both, so we can compare them side by side.

Single-Sided and Double-Sided Movie Posters Side by Side

We have placed both the single and double-sided posters in identical frames. Can you tell the difference?


A single-sided and double-sided movie poster side by side


Setting aside the reflections and our poor photography skills, there isn't much to choose between the two and the casual observer would fail to notice the difference.

The Single-Sided Movie Poster

The single-sided poster is exactly as you would expect. The paper stock is of high-quality and the print quality equally impressive.


A close up of a single sided movie poster



The reverse of the poster is completely blank.


The reverse of a single-sided movie poster

The Double-Sided Movie Poster

The double-sided poster is perhaps slightly heavier. It may be produced on slightly thicker paper stock, but the difference is not significant.

From the front, there is little to differentiate it from the single-sided version.


The front of a double-sided movie poster


but, turn it over and it is a different story…


The reverse of a double-sided movie poster


The reverse of the poster carries a mirror print of the front, aligned millimetre perfect with the other side, but printed in lighter tones.


The reverse of a double-sided movie poster

So, Why Are Most Modern Movie Posters Double Sided?

Shine a light from the back of each movie poster and the answer is immediately evident...

Modern posters are printed double-sided to be used in movie poster / cinema Light Boxes.


A single sided and double sided movie poster side by side in back-lit movie poster frames


While the single-sided poster on the left looks fine, compared to the double-sided poster on the right, it looks a little washed-out.

The double-sided poster displays a far greater colour-range and more life-like tones.


A close up of a single sided movie poster back-lit A close up of a double sided movie poster back-lit


When the poster is illuminated from behind, the double-sided printing gives an increased colour saturation, and greater image depth, the movie poster comes to life.


A close up of a single sided movie poster back-lit A close up of a double sided movie poster back-lit


So, double-sided poster printing is more complex and it is more difficult, but, it can turn a piece of paper and some ink into the single-cell of a movie and with a Light Box, you can do this to posters in your own home too.


 A James Bond Quantum of Solace Movie Poster in an Illuminated Back-Lit Movie Poster Cinema Light Box Frame


If you'd like to know more about Light Boxes, check out this recent Light Box blog post. You can also find our very own Movie Poster / Cinema Light Boxes here.


Adam and the Art of the Movie team.



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