This Smokey and the Bandit poster was distributed to U.S. movie theaters in the summer of
FThirty-five years ago this summer, Smokey and the Bandit began its meteoric rise to become the second-highest-grossing film of 1977.
In June 2012, Universal Home Entertainment released Smokey and the Bandit on Blu-Ray disc, bringing American home audiences the film in 1,080p high-definition for the first time. Two bonus features are included on the discs: “Loaded Up and Truckin’: The Making of Smokey and the Bandit,” and “Snowman, What’s Your 20? The Smokey and the Bandit CB Tutorial.”
This month, High Performance Pontiac has its own Smokey and the Bandit celebration. We dug up a dozen different Smokey and the Bandit movie posters from around the globe, and discovered how foreign ad agencies translated the American Smokey and the Bandit movie poster to their domestic audiences—sometimes very strangely. Some changed the name of the movie entirely and/or created new artwork that they felt was better suited to their audiences.
In researching the history of the Smokey and the Bandit movie posters, we contacted Hollywood movie-poster illustrator John Solie. He created the painting, which takes center stage on the Smokey and the Bandit U.S. release movie poster, and was supplied to many foreign countries for their Smokey and the Bandit movie posters, too.
“I’ve produced the primary art for hundreds of Hollywood movies,” Solie tells HPP in an exclusive interview. “When painting Smokey and the Bandit for its movie poster, I had no idea that it would become a summer blockbuster and one of the most popular car-chase movies in history.”
Solie recalls he received Smokey and the Bandit black-and-white still photography from an advertising agency some months prior to the film’s debut on May 27, 1977. “I remember a still of Jackie Gleason, which I used in the painting,” he says. “I didn’t have a photo of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field together, which I thought would work for the movie poster. I took Polaroid photos of models standing in for Reynolds and Field, with the female model on the male’s shoulders. I used the photographs as reference and drew the characters’ bodies in the painting, Later, I added in Burt and Sally’s faces using the stills I had previously been provided. I never met Reynolds, Field, or Jackie Gleason when working on the painting,” he says.
Jolie created the Smokey and the Bandit painting with acrylic paints on 30x40-inch illustration board. According to him, he had to do it quickly. “I was never given a long lead to produce movie posters. I could get something in the morning and be asked to have it done by that afternoon, but I had a little more time than that on Smokey and the Bandit—a few days or maybe as long as a week.”
“I had to keep the painting simple because when it appears on a billboard, a person has a third of a second to read it,” he continues. “If they don’t see everything that’s important in that short period of time, they’re going to go on to the next thing. That’s why you clearly see the three characters, trucks, and cars—[they are] the key attention-grabbing elements of the movie and tell the story. It does its job very quickly and easily. I think it’s a successful ad because of that.”
Have you ever looked at the Smokey and the Bandit movie poster and asked yourself, “Why are there illustrations on it that don’t appear in the film, and why is one of the film’s most important characters—yes, we’re talking about the Trans Am—not on the movie poster?”
Jolie admits that these oddities can be attributed to the fact that he didn’t see a screener (a pre-release private showing) of Smokey and the Bandit before he made the painting. “The poster was already hanging in movie theaters before I ever saw the film for the first time,” he says.
Here are the peculiarities of the Smokey and the Bandit poster, followed by Solie’s explanation:
The black-and-white LeMans police car—it’s brown in the film: “Artistic license. The ad agency wasn’t picky about things like that.”
The Chevrolet police car under the rig—it doesn’t appear in the film: “I found a picture of a car and stuck it in there.”
Smokey and the Bandit quickly grew so popular that worldwide distribution came hot on the
… but this alternate poster distributed to movie theaters in the U.S. says, “400 illegal c
This movie poster, which was released to movie theaters in Germany, uses John Solie’s illu
Spain, however, decided to rename the movie as Los Caraduras, which translates into Englis
Poland went with its own illustration and design for the Smokey and the Bandit movie poste
Sweden’s Smokey and the Bandit poster has Burt Reynolds starring in Now Blows the Bandit,
The Australian “daybill” poster has the tagline, “Bandit is his name—beating Smokey (the p
Denmark’s poster is based on the American one, but the movie title was changed to The Wild
Pakistan also used the American movie poster template, but with the bizarre tagline, “What
Universal Home Entertainment released Smokey and the Bandit this summer on Blu-Ray disc fo
France changed the movie’s name to Cours Apr�s Moi, Sherif, which translates into Run Afte
Italy changed the name of the movie to The Bandit and the Madam.