The Shining poster concepts rejected by Kubrick

Graphic design legend Saul Bass, the man behind iconic film title sequences and movie posters and some of the most well-known corporate logos of AT&T or Konica Minolta, needs no introduction. Same Stanley Kubrick, an auteur so painfully perfectionist, “he had a hand in every aspect of his films, from development to exhibition (going as far as selecting a list of theaters he’d want his films to play in)”. Inevitable, their collaboration remains an important case study.

Saul Bass had created storyboards for Kubrick’s Spartacus but what is interesting is their on-going written dialogue regarding the process of that bright yellow original poster for The Shining that was just as unsettling as the film itself. This poster design wasn’t a ‘design and done’ deal however. “Many of Bass’ concepts were rejected by Kubrick before settling on the final design.” “I’ve read online that Kubrick made Bass go through at least 300 versions of the poster until finally ending on the extremely alien looking version we now know”.

The rejected poster designs feature the handwritten notes by the director ( “title looks bad small,” “too much emphasis on maze,” “looks like science fiction film”) and there is also a cover letter from Bass explaining what he sent, as well as Kubrick’s response.