Stanley Kubrick’s typography

It's become common knowledge that Stanley Kubrick was a Futura fan. But did he use it very often?

Killer's Kiss (1955) movie poster

KILLER’S KISS (1955) One sheet poster
Fonts used: Cheltenham, Futura, Trade Gothic

The Killing (1956) movie poster

THE KILLING (1956) One sheet poster
Hand-lettered movie title, Franklin Gothic, Trade Gothic

Paths of Glory (1957) movie poster

PATHS OF GLORY (1957) One sheet poster
Hand-lettered movie title, Futura, ?

Spartacus (1960) movie poster

SPARTACUS (1960) One sheet poster, international roadshow style
Hand-lettered movie title, Alternate Gothic, Trade Gothic

Lolita (1962) movie poster

LOLITA (1962) One sheet poster
Fonts used: Akzidenz-Grotesk, Trade Gothic

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) movie poster

DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) One sheet poster
Fonts used: Standard, Century, Trade Gothic

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) movie poster

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) One sheet poster
Fonts used: Futura, Trade Gothic

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) movie poster

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) One sheet poster, psychedelic eye/starchild style
Gill Sans

A Clockwork Orange (1971) movie poster

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) One sheet poster
Hand-lettered movie title, Venus, News Gothic

Barry Lyndon (1975) movie poster

BARRY LYNDON (1975) One sheet poster
Hand-lettered movie title

The Shining (1980) movie poster

THE SHINING (1980) One sheet poster
Hand-lettered movie title (by Saul Bass), Univers

Full Metal Jacket (1987) movie poster

FULL METAL JACKET (1987) Advance one sheet poster
Hand-lettered movie title, Eras, Univers, News Gothic

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) movie poster

EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) One sheet poster
Futura, Bee Three

Listed above: all typography and lettering from Kubrick’s movie posters (click on the ‘thumbnails for the one sheet poster). Listed below: all on-screen typography and lettering from Kubrick’s movies (click on the ‘thumbnails for the title sequences, closing credits, trailers).

Stanley Kubrick’s typography

Ever since the Guardian published this article about the Kubrick archive in 2004 it’s become common knowledge that Stanley Kubrick was a Futura fan.

“It’s Futura Extra Bold,” explains Tony. “It was Stanley’s favourite typeface. It’s sans serif. He liked Helvetica and Univers, too. Clean and elegant.”

“Is this the kind of thing you and Kubrick used to discuss?” I ask.

“God, yes,” says Tony. “Sometimes late into the night. I was always trying to persuade him to turn away from them. But he was wedded to his sans serifs.”

But did he use it often? Every time I added one of Kubrick’s movies to this collection of on-screen typography from all his films I asked myself this question. Time to figure it out.

The statistics below are based one the typography of the main posters (only one sheet posters), opening/closing credits and trailers. Futura is used twice as primary typeface, three times as secondary typeface on posters, only once for a title sequence and twice for a trailer.

Conclusion: Kubrick didn’t use his favorite font very often.

STATISTICS

All typefaces used on posters, in movies and trailers.

  • FEAR AND DESIRE (1953)
    Hand-lettering (movie)
  • KILLER’S KISS (1955)
    Cheltenham, Futura Trade Gothic (poster) hand-lettering (movie)
  • THE KILLING (1956)
    Hand-lettered movie title, Franklin Gothic, Trade Gothic (poster) hand-lettering (movie, trailer)
  • PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
    Hand-lettered movie title, Futura (poster), hand-lettering (movie), Venus (trailer)
  • SPARTACUS (1960)
    Hand-lettered movie title, Alternate Gothic, Trade Gothic (poster), Clarendon
  • LOLITA (1962)
    Akzidenz-Grotesk, Trade Gothic (poster), Perpetua. Trailer: ?, Venus
  • DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
    Alternate Gothic, Century, Trade Gothic (poster), hand-lettering (movie), Grotesque, Futura (trailer)
  • 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
    Poster: Futura Trade Gothic, Gill Sans
    On-screen typography: Gill Sans
  • A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
    Poster: Hand-lettered movie title, Venus, News Gothic
    On-screen typography: x
  • BARRY LYNDON (1975)
    Handlettering (poster, opening credits), Cheltenham (closing credits)
  • THE SHINING (1980)
    Handlettering, Univers (poster), Swiss 721 (movie), Futura (trailer)
  • FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
    Hand-lettered movie title, Eras, Univers, News Gothic (poster) Eras (movie), handlettering, Univers (trailer)
  • EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
    Futura Bee Three (poster), Futura (movie, trailer)
Fear and Desire (1953) movie title

FEAR AND DESIRE (1953)
Movie: hand-lettered title. Trailer: –

Killer's Kiss (1955) movie title

KILLER’S KISS (1955)
Movie: hand-lettered title. Trailer: –

The Killing (1956) movie title

THE KILLING (1956)
Movie: hand-lettered title. Trailer: hand-lettered.

Paths of Glory (1957) movie title

PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
Movie: hand-lettering. Trailer: hand-lettering, Venus.

Spartacus (1960) movie title

SPARTACUS (1960)
Movie: Clarendon. Trailer: hand-lettering, Clarendon. Franklin Gothic.

Lolita (1962) movie title

LOLITA (1962)
Movie: ± Perpetua. Trailer: ?, Venus.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)  movie title

DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
Movie: hand-lettering. Trailer: Grotesque, Futura.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) movie title

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
Movie: Gill Sans. Trailer: Futura (closing credits, trailer).

A Clockwork Orange (1971) movie title

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
Fonts used: Standard

Barry Lyndon (1975) movie title

BARRY LYNDON (1975)
Handlettering (opening credits), Cheltenham (closing credits)

The Shining (1980) movie title

THE SHINING (1980)
Swiss 721 (movie), Futura (trailer)

Full Metal Jacket (1987) movie title

FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
Eras (movie), handlettering, Univers (trailer)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) movie title

EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
Futura (movie, trailer)