Painted movie posters

The thread “What happened to glorious Technicolor?” made me think of another movie-related question:

Why were movie posters — the kind you see displayed outside of theaters — still mostly being painted/drawn even into the 1980s? Nowadays they’re almost all photographic, but occasionally I come across pictures of old posters or even just looking at the artwork on VHS/DVD boxes containing older movies, and actual photographs are pretty rare.

Was large-format printing technology so far behind the curve, even into the '80s, that printing photos of that size was impractical/expensive? No easy or practical way to convert photos from movie film stock to a format suitable for printing to paper? Movie posters were the last holdover from stage productions?

On reason might be the death of one of the greastest movie poster illustrators of all time. Bob Peak:

Or just a change in the trends. A lot of movie posters seem to be gigantic pictures of the faces of the stars. Maybe they feel like marketing the actors is more profitable than marketing the movie itself.

For the most recent Indy Jones movie they did go back to the origianl artist and do the whole ‘retro’ poster.
I think a big reason is that movies open so wide now that it’s really impractical. However you can make something printed for say the top 500 grossing movie theatres, and that covers about 1/4 of the locations you open at, but you need something for the others as well.

Plus big actors, in the big movies, usually have ‘approval’ of the images of them used in the advertising. What if they didnt’ like the painting? Wash it off?

My grandfather got his start as a graphic artist due to his managing a movie theater in Carlsbad, NM, way back in the day.
He was briefly notorious for his huge “Coolers and Jugs” Coleman billboard in Wichita, KS.
None of his movie stuff is around anymore, but we still have some of his other (small) paintings.

It had nothing to do with technical limitations. They had the same ability to make large posters from photographs in the 1910s as they do in the 2000s. And they don’t enlarge movie film stock to make posters, they use still photos (usually taken on large format negatives).

It has simply been an industry-wide aesthetic shift away from drawn or painted artwork toward photography. Which is a big loss when you look at the hundreds of beautiful movie posters that were created in decades past.