Equal Likeness

A Few Good Men teaser poster

A Few Good Men teaser movie poster

Movie poster actor clauses

The phrase equal likeness is common term and often an overriding factor in the design and creation of movie poster art. Basically equal likeness is the film advertising equivalent of a “favored nations” clause in an actor’s contract. It means that if one actor has “equal likeness” to another actor, than images of both actors must be equal in size and prominence in any movie poster art. Contract requirements can be taken further when an actor has an additional “first position” clause, which would translate to the actor’s likeness always appearing first (usually on the left side or top) in any artwork.

Take this A Few Good Men teaser poster for example. Although Tom Cruise has top billing (or at least a “first position” clause), so his name and image appears first on the left, co-star Jack Nicholson likely has an equal likeness clause with Cruise meaning his name and image appears the same size anytime Cruise is featured.

These contractual obligations can get fairly complicated in terms of layout and design, since showing one actor can trigger a requirement to show a group of other actors that have equal likeness terms in their film contract.

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  1. Lining Up Credit « posterwire.comOctober 10, 2005 at 10:47 AMReply

    […] nd even the size of their own likeness on the poster in relation to their co-stars image (“equal likeness”). The order of actors names may be set in stone via contractuals, […]

  2. Hi, I’m Burke. » Ghana Movie PaintingsAugust 30, 2009 at 8:56 PMReply

    […] from the studio and actors that they end up a bland compromise. Who really wants to see equal likeness photos of movie stars on every poster? I would much rather see art like these posters from Ghana, […]

  3. Lining Up Credit | Posterwire.comDecember 3, 2011 at 10:20 AMReply

    […] As with most things involving actors/talent in motion pictures, the names and likeness of actors are controlled by their almighty contract. The actor’s contract includes what can and can’t be done with their name/likeness on a movie poster one-sheet (and all other film advertising). These advertising provisions in contracts (sometimes called “contractual” or “contractuals”) that relate to one-sheets dictate things such as whether an actor’s name must appear above the film’s title (“above title credit”), the location and order of their credit (such as “first billing” or “top billing”), and even the size of their own likeness on the poster in relation to their co-stars image (“equal likeness“). […]

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