I was just reading David Thomson's intriguing/perplexing entry on Paul Thomas Anderson in the new edition of his "Biographical Dictionary of Film" (more about that later) and he begins with reports that Anderson had at one point been unhappy with New Line's print campaign for "Magnolia":
Yet, truly, how would you do a poster for "Magnolia"? How would you begin to convey the feeling and form of the picture? Would you bother to ask the question why it is called "Magnolia"? Would you let yourself ask, are posters the proper way to offer great movies?
Such awkward questions could accumulate in Hollywood marketing offices, which have so little time or practice with the crosscutting ironies and countervailing doubts that obsess Anderson and are the energy of his films.
Yes, the job of marketing and advertising is to present the movie to the public and (if it's an honest campaign) entice them with a taste of what they can expect from it. And we all know that sometimes the efforts are woefully inadequate: "It's Terrific!" ("Citizen Kane"); "The Damndest Thing You Ever Saw!" ("Nashville"). I think the original paintings and drawings done for the Polish movie market -- most of which use no images from the movies themselves -- often do a stronger job of suggesting the feel of the films, like my favorite posters for "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and "The Phantom of Liberty."