Look at These Saul Bass Posters for 'The Shining' Rejected by Kubrick

August 7, 2014
Source: Open Culture

The Shining

If you're more than a casual fan of filmmaking, then you're probably familiar with the name Saul Bass for his work on opening credits sequences and posters for iconic films of the past from directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and more. Now we get a little insight into the creative process of figuring out how Saul Bass worked with filmmakers to craft just the right poster to get audiences interested in the film by way of some rejects designs for Kubrick's classic horror film The Shining. Some alternate designs have surfaced, complete with Kubrick's notes on what he didn't like about these pieces, and it's pretty fascinating.

Here's three rejected Saul Bass designs for The Shining poster, followed by the final released design:

The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

Thanks to Open Culture (via The Playlist) for getting these online. The notes are the most interesting part of these designs, showing that Kubrick was very well aware of how he wanted his audience to perceive the film. It's also intriguing to see how Bass attempted to perceive and promote the film with some vague but provoking imagery. Knowing what we do about The Shining, all of Kubrick's notes are spot-on in how audiences would likely receive a poster like this, thinking they were heading to the theater for a different kind of movie. But in retrospect, these would be cool prints for any fan of The Shining to put on a wall.

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Reader Feedback - 9 Comments


the yellow poster looks like Jack Nicholson , Grey Alien hybrid

shane willett on Aug 7, 2014


Just fyi....that is one of the book covers

shadynasty on Aug 8, 2014


diff time i guess, no that would come off as an alien or even so weird mutant , but a possessed man, not at all. Guess stuff was scary it wasn't hard to make imagery scary , but now the cover would have to have some kind of blood dripping off text, or spatter, or spilled ink or old looking paper'ish design on the cover with a axe covered in blood, even though really only bloody scene is the elevator scene.. but thats the level were at now...

shane willett on Aug 8, 2014



Xerxexx on Aug 7, 2014


that movie scared poop out of me..

mudbutt jones on Aug 7, 2014


I like the idea of dots in the title, resembling snow flakes (which you still kind of get in the yellow one). If Bass could've made the title more visible I would've loved to see that in a final poster. But the yellow poster is plenty awesome and creepy on its own.

Isildur_of_Numenor on Aug 7, 2014


Yellow One reminds me of another film. Perhaps a Dracula related one?

DAVIDPD on Aug 7, 2014


Thanks, Ethan. I did find this quite interesting. I almost worked with Kubrick on Full Metal Jacket. He was certainly an interesting, very intelligent talented filmmaker. I very much liked all his films and have missed him making more, but alas, due to his early death we shall have no more. I was also interested in the posters he rejected. I did not like any of them; I also did not like the final, yellow one; but the film was a great one so what I think about the poster means squat! again, Ethan.

Guest on Aug 7, 2014


Agree with Kubrick about the bike, but I kind of like both the maze and the hand one for hinting about the end. He's totally right about the second one, though. Definitely resembles a sci-fi film rather than The Shining.

Lewis Lovhaug on Aug 7, 2014

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