By Lesley Yarbrough

Do you love movie posters, data, and visualizations? Well then you’re in for a real treat.

A couple months ago, Vijay Pandurangan posted the Colours in movie posters since 1914 — an interactive data visualization that shows the way colours have evolved in the fine art of the movie poster throughout the years.

One of first things you’ll probably notice is the prevalence of orange and how the increased use of blue has been a steady trend over the last 100 years. Is this due to printing processes evolving? The shift from hand-painting to photography to computers? Shifts in genre popularity? Or perhaps Hollywood has some sort of fine-tuned scientific process they’re using (doubt it ;). Unfortunately those are big questions and this was a side project, but regardless, the information Vijay was able to put together is fantastic.

How did he do it?

“I downloaded ~ 35k thumbnailed-size images…from a site that has a lot of movie posters online. I then grouped the movie posters by the year in which the movie they promoted was released. For each year, I counted the total number of pixels for each colour in the year. After normalizing and converting to HSL coordinates, I generated the visualizations.”

As great as the overall trends look, what’s really cool is when you dig into the yearly data and start moving that handy slider around. The shifts in orange blue seem much more dramatic when broken down and viewed in pie chart form.

Even if the data and the circumstances around it are a little rough, this is an incredibly cool idea. Be sure to check out Vijay’s blog for more details about this project, and be careful, it can be a bit of a time sucker.

For more reading on orange and blue in movie posters, there are a couple of good posts (rants?) on the topic. Cheers!