Film and TV

The Royale Showcases Custom Movie Posters by Phoenix Artists

As any pop culture nut or film buff will tell you, movie posters are cool things to collect. Just ask local graphic designer Victor Moreno, whose residence is filled with framed one-sheets for cinematic classics and cult films.

"A classic movie poster has a way of drawing you into the film's narrative and is almost always a cool piece of art that looks good on your wall," Moreno says.

What's even cooler is the recent trend of unique and custom-designed movie posters that have been created for repertory and art house cinemas.

Made by renowned artists like Shepard Fairey, these screenprinted gems are produced in limited numbers for special one-off screenings of arty films and cult flicks for theaters including the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, or the New Beverly Cinema in L.A.

Here in the Valley, Moreno is just one of a few local designers who have been creating custom posters for special showings of films at The Royale in Mesa.

Moreno says the custom poster trend has been around for more than a decade. One of the more prominent and popular producers of unique movie poster art are the folks at Mondo, a T-shirt design company in Austin that began making screenprinted one-sheets for screenings at Alamo Drafthouse in 2002. The trend has since spread to art cinemas across the country.

​"In the last few years, movie posters have been something that well-known graphic designers and artists have been doing, sort of as a side project," Moreno says. "They're cool-looking, avant garde, and make a routine screening seem like something special."

Moreno's been making arty posters for the one-off film screenings presented by prominent Valley cult movie buff Andrea Beesly-Brown (a.k.a. "The Midnight Movie Mamacita") for more than five years, dating back to her Grindhouse Redux events at Madcap Theatres and the old Chandler Cinemas.

Moreno moved to the Valley in 2005 to study at ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. And despite the fact he now has his Juris Doctorate, it's art and graphic design that helped get him through law school and is his true passion in life.

He's done work for MySpace and Sony Music ("Working the Michael Jackson account pretty much helped feed me for awhile," Moreno says. "When he died, my account was weeping.") and has created and sold groovy posters of monsters and sci-fi icons at local comic book conventions.

When Beesly-Brown opened The Royale this past summer, Moreno thought they could create a series of unique one-off posters for each screening. He crafted a series of limited-run posters for screenings of Army of Darkness and cult horror flick Insidious in July, both of which were bought up like hotcakes by those in attendance. Moreno and Beesly-Brown then sought out other local designers to design posters.

​"It just sort of occurred to me that we're kind of on the ground floor of setting up this theatre and I've been doing poster for Andrea's film, why can't I get other people involved with doing it?" Moreno says.

So far, the posters produced for the Royale's screenings have proven to be both arty and popular. Steamcrow's Daniel M. Davis came up with an interesting poster for a showing of the video game documentary King of Kong in August. Designer Jessica Frampton conjured up a the image of circus tent lit by moonlight for Todd Browing's legendary 1932 film Freaks. And Randy J. Gregory used an old Nintendo game cartridge as inspiration for his poster for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Each poster is produced in limited numbers and is sold for $10-$20. Moreno says that since each film showing is a special event, the posters help give patrons something special to commemorate the screening, as well as something arty to hang on their walls.

"They're cool-looking, avant garde, and make a routine screening seem like something special," he says.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook and Twitter.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.