Creative Old Ghanaian Movie Posters Go Viral

A Twitter user started a thread of his favorite custom posters, created by Ghanaian artists.

rambo movie poster

Image via Twitter

rambo movie poster

Mobile cinema businesses became wildly popular in Ghana in the 1980s and 1990s. As a way to attract viewers, proprietors commissioned local artists to paint film posters with creative license.

Twitter user @Retr0Joe started a thread of some of his favorite posters. The collection went viral over the weekend.

According to CNN, the pop-up movie houses brought film screenings to villages and rural areas that didn’t have theaters or electricity. These temporary “video clubs” typically involved a diesel generator, VCR, and TV or projector loaded onto a truck. They would travel around the country showing Hollywood, Bollywood, and West African films.

The mobile cinemas needed a way to promote their offerings but didn’t have the original movie posters or a way to print alternatives because, at the time, the country’s military rulers had prohibited the import of printing presses.

The commissioned paintings were made on used flour sacks and were usually 40 to 50 inches in width and 55 to 70 inches in height. Known for their “garish, exuberant style, full of muscles, blood, and exaggerated features,” the originals have become popular and pricey in the art world.

“They were designed to sell movie tickets, it was all about getting people through the doors,” said Brian Chankin, a dealer and collector, told the outlet. “So the vibe really was to try and make each poster as unique as possible, not to mention as crazy as possible.”

Sometimes, the artists depicted imagery that wasn’t in the films (like Michael Jordan holding a gun in Space Jam).

“I sometimes watched the movies and picked some actions from it,” artist Heavy Jay told CNN. "But if the movie was so boring, then I had to do it by my own imagination, which mostly features some images and actions that (were) not in the movies, to attract more people to go watch them."

Joe Mensah, Nyen Kumah, Leonardo, Socrates, Death is Wonder, Frank Armah, and D.A. Jasper were some of the most popular artists.

Chankin started collecting the posters around 10 years ago. In 2015, he opened Deadly Prey Gallery, a Chicago-based studio that works with Ghanaian artists. According to Chankin, the most requested posters are “Predator, Terminator, anything with Kurt Russell, anything with (Jean-Claude) Van Damme,” adding, “Horror is arguably the most popular genre.”

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