The Most Iconic Movie Posters Of All Time

These are the top 10 most iconic movie posters throughout the age of cinema.

By Chad Langen | Published

A great movie poster has the power to capture the essence of a film and entice audiences to experience it for themselves. Over the years, certain posters have become iconic, instantly recognizable to film buffs around the world. The following is a list of the 10 most iconic motion picture posters of all time, from sci-fi classics like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to spine-tingling movies about serial killers like The Silence of the Lambs.

10. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

The movie poster for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the timeless romantic comedy, is one of the most adored images in cinematic history. Featuring the legendary Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, the poster showcases her standing in front of Tiffany’s store window, donning a black dress and pearls, with a cute cat perched on her shoulders. Its sophisticated design and Hepburn’s captivating presence capture the film’s fashion and style, creating a timeless symbol of Hollywood’s glamour. In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the poster played a significant role in establishing Hepburn as a fashion icon and a Hollywood legend. The film’s one-sheet is so beloved that it has been framed and displayed in the households of countless movie buffs around the world.

9. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The movie poster for The Wizard of Oz is an iconic image that is widely recognized and beloved in the world of cinema. Originally released in 1939, the poster features a striking illustration of Dorothy and her companions on the yellow brick road, with the Emerald City glimmering in the distance. Its colorful and whimsical design, along with the unforgettable characters, perfectly captures the film’s enchanting and magical tone, making it a symbol of cinematic fantasy that endures to this day.

Not only did the poster’s visual appeal draw in audiences, but it also played a crucial role in promoting the film, generating buzz and anticipation. Even now, the poster is cherished by film enthusiasts as a testament to the timeless appeal of The Wizard of Oz and its message of hope and wonder.

8. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, and its movie poster is equally iconic. Released in 1939, the poster features a stunning portrait of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, played by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, respectively, set against a backdrop of a burning Atlanta. The poster’s vivid colors and dramatic composition perfectly capture the epic scope and sweeping romance of the film, making it an enduring symbol of Hollywood glamour and grandeur. Even today, the poster remains a treasured piece of movie memorabilia and serves as a tribute to the enduring appeal of this classic film.

7. Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park, the Steven Spielberg classic, is a film that has become iconic in cinema history, with its poster being no exception. The spectacular one-sheet features a minimalist design, with the silhouette of a T-Rex skeleton against a black background, creating a sense of awe and danger in equal measure. The film’s tagline, “An adventure 65 million years in the making,” perfectly captures the sense of wonder and excitement that the film provides. To this day, it’s a movie poster that remains an iconic image of the blockbuster era, capturing the thrill of discovery and the danger of the unknown that makes Jurassic Park such a beloved classic.

6. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The movie poster for The Silence of the Lambs featuring Jodie Foster and a moth is one of the most chilling and iconic images in cinematic history. The minimalist design, with the moth covering Foster’s mouth, perfectly captures the film’s themes of confinement, fear, and entrapment. The poster’s dark and unsettling tone is a testament to the film’s success in creating an atmosphere of suspense and terror, making it an enduring symbol of the psychological thriller genre.

Beyond its aesthetic qualities, the creepy one-sheet for The Silence of the Lambs has become a cultural reference and an inspiration for many other horror pictures.

5. The Godfather (1972)

movie posters

The Godfather, the cinematic masterpiece directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Its iconic movie poster, featuring the marionette strings and the hand holding the puppet, is just as memorable. The one sheet’s stark contrast and bold typography perfectly capture the film’s themes of power, control, and family. The image of the hand holding the strings, representing the puppet master, has become an enduring symbol of the movie’s depiction of the mafia’s influence and manipulation. The poster’s dark and foreboding tone, combined with the film’s gripping story and legendary performances, has cemented The Godfather as a cultural touchstone and the poster as an icon of cinema history.

4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

movie posters

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is another classic Steven Spielberg film, and just like Jurassic Park, it features one of the most iconic one-sheets in the history of cinema. The movie poster for E.T. captures the sense of wonder and adventure that permeates the pictures, depicting the film’s eponymous alien and his young human friend Elliott cycling across a bright, moonlit sky.

The poster’s simple yet striking design and warm color palette perfectly encapsulate the film’s themes of friendship and imagination, making it an enduring symbol of childhood wonder and movie magic. During the late 80s and 90s, it was almost a rite of passage for kids to have a print of the poster hanging in their bedroom.

3. Pulp Fiction (1994)

movie posters

The Pulp Fiction poster is an iconic representation of 90s cinema and is nearly as beloved as the Quentin Tarantino classic film itself. With its basic design, bold typography, and monochromatic color scheme, the poster perfectly captures the film’s gritty and irreverent tone. The image of Uma Thurman lying on her side, smoking a cigarette, has become one of the most recognizable and parodied images in movie poster history.

The unique style and cultural impact of the Pulp Fiction one-sheet have made it a sought-after piece of movie memorabilia, and it has been referenced and reproduced countless times in popular culture.

2. Star Wars (1977)

movie posters

The poster for 1977’s Star Wars is iconic for many reasons. With its striking design featuring the heroic Luke Skywalker, the beautiful Princess Leia, and the menacing Darth Vader, the one-sheet captures the film’s epic and imaginative scope. The use of bright colors and dynamic composition, with the characters surrounded by the film’s futuristic technology and vehicles, helped to establish Star Wars as a new kind of science fiction movie. The poster also played a significant role in the film’s marketing campaign, contributing to the immense success of the franchise and becoming a cultural phenomenon. Even today, the movie poster remains a cherished piece of motion picture memorabilia and a symbol of the enduring popularity of the Star Wars universe.

1. Jaws (1975)

movie posters

The movie poster for Jaws is hands down the most iconic one-sheet of all time. The poster features a simple yet chilling image of a great white shark looming beneath a swimmer, with the tagline “Don’t go in the water”. The poster’s minimalist design perfectly captures the suspenseful and terrifying nature of the film, which has become a classic in the horror genre. The poster’s impact was so great that it became a cultural phenomenon, with the image of the shark being instantly recognizable to people all over the world. Even those who have not seen the film are likely to be familiar with the image, making it a true testament to the power of a well-designed movie poster.