Is this movie poster an epic design fail – or marketing genius?

The Northman poster
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

There are a few particular elements you can reasonably expect to see on any given movie poster. Images of the cast? Check. Names of the cast? Check. An intriguing tagline that manages to reveal absolutely nothing about the film? Check. The title of the movie? Believe it or not, it seems this one is no longer a given.

New Yorkers have been left baffled by the latest poster for Viking action film The Northman, after it appeared across the city's subway system sans title. It looks like one of the most basic design fails imaginable – but then again, like all the best print ads, it's got us talking. So could it be a deliberate stunt?

The Northman movie poster with missing title

(Image credit: Isaac Butler on Twitter)

The poster for the film, which stars the likes of Nicole Kidman and Ana Taylor-Joy and hits cinemas this month, has gone viral on social media, leading some to speculate that, like that recent Nike ad, it features a deliberate mistake. 

It's hard to know where to stand on this one. On one hand, The Northman doesn't look like the kind of film that would feature a provocatively challenging poster. This isn't some quirky genre-buster like, say Everything Everywhere All at Once (love that poster, by the way). From the looks of what's left of the poster, it's a fairly standard Viking sword-slasher. And then there's the fact that, as Pedestrian reports, the posters have already been taken down. Sounds like a mistake, right?

But at the same time, how do you forget the title of the movie? Like, how? Genuinely how? It just seems too stupid to be true – and as a result of the apparent gaffe, there are now plenty of people who know the title of film now, even if until this morning they had no idea it even existed. The cynical part of me is thinking this was all dreamt up in an air-conditioned boardroom at Universal Pictures.

Still, at least we've been able to enjoy the predictably entertaining Twitter response. Users have, naturally, been quick to add their own titles to film, and it's pretty hilarious how they juxtapose with these grizzled Viking characters. My favourite has to be The Devil Wears Prada 2: Judgement Day.

The Northman movie poster with the title changed to Tarzan

(Image credit: @SamVanivray on Twitter)

The Northman movie poster with the title changed to Finding Nemo 3

(Image credit: murdocroy on Twitter)

The Northman poster with the title changed to The Devil Wears Prada 2: Judgement Day

(Image credit: WorkyWood on Twitter)

So, right now, the marketing team for The Northman is probably either receiving a big telling off, or big congratulations. We'll probably never know. If you're inspired to create a poster of your own, title or no title, check out our guide on how to download Photoshop.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.