Most designers agree that the movie poster is pretty much the least creative form there is. Mainly due to Hollywood’s homogenization and emphasis on numbers over art, posters are pretty much copies of copies. But there’s copying, and then there’s Chinese copying.

Chinese copycat poster

The other day, I came across a rather comprehensive collection of copycat posters in China, with the layout, photographic style, and general concept lifted directly from Hollywood movies of recent years. Check it out for yourself.

This isn’t me calling out another designer for copying — there’s plenty of that on the web — this is me being puzzled over the apparent lack of home-grown creativity in the Chinese cinema industry. While the entire world enjoys mainstream Hollywood movies, I’m a little surprised to see that there isn’t a uniquely local design sensibility to rally around. For example, a Bollywood movie poster looks distinctively Indian, as does something from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa. While the typography and photos of actors allow no ambiguity of this being Chinese in origin, I’m curious to see what true Chinese graphic design looks like.

It’s worth noting that this kind of copycat culture is par for the course in China. They’ve long been known to copy cameras, furniture, and clothing, and more recently, cars, restaurants, Apple stores and phones. Without going into detail, we’re also coping with this at work, so I’m learning all about it from another angle.

What are your thoughts? Are we allowed to be inspired by movie posters in creating new ones? Or should designers come up with entirely new designs as a matter of principle. And where are the Chinese designers in all this?

Disclaimer: This is a commentary on poster design. Don’t overreact.