It’s often said that the book is better than the film, but when it comes to the artwork
– is the book jacket better than the film poster?

With many literary pieces being adapted for the screen this fall we thought we’d take a side-by-side look at the artwork beginning with
Music Box Film’s A Man Called Ove. Adapted from the New York Times best selling debut novel by author Frederik Backman,
it was just selected as Sweden’s nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in this year’s Oscar race. The Chicago-based
Music Box Films is no stranger to film adaptations. They are the United States distributor behind the
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film trilogy based on the best selling Swedish crime novels.

“A Man Called Ove” in limited release September 30, 2016


Music Box Films

Q&A with Austin Vitt, Director of Content Production & Creative Development

Did you take any inspiration from the book cover, for the film poster?

Absolutely. In the case of OVE, the novel is currently on the bestseller list and the book cover is very visible in stores all over the country, so we felt it was important to make the poster recognizably part of the same world so fans of the book, both established and new, would directly connect the two. We looked at a bunch of book jackets from around the world and found that they tended to feature Ove out for a walk with the cat. Ove’s life is all about imposing routine and order, and the cat in a way represents the (at first) unwelcome interloper into that world of routine, so this stroll around the neighborhood became the iconic central image of the film for us. We also liked the idea that the poster could virtually serve as the reverse perspective of the Washington Square Press/Atria Books edition, where Ove is facing away from us. With a novel this allows us as readers to imagine for ourselves what his face looks like, but in our film he’s played by the great Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård, so we flipped him around to showcase Rolf and let him make direct eye contact with the viewer, which I think invites you in. The large stacked title overlaid on top of Ove is also a nod to the book jacket, as well as the weathered texture, which to me evokes a well-loved paperback.

In regard to the key art, do you approach a literary adaptation differently than an original piece?

For the most part, we consider the film to be an entirely different entity from the source material and approach it as an original piece regardless of whether it’s based on a book, an original script, or something else. The rare exception to that is something like Ove, where it has a distinct and relevant literary lifeblood that we think informs the film and want to represent in our art for the movie, and where the book’s art is prevalent enough that its fanbase might reasonably recognize it in a re-contextualized form and make the connection between the hugely popular book they know and the artwork for a film that, while extremely accessible and winning, is ultimately a foreign language film that will experience what’s considered to be a “limited” release in US theaters, playing mostly in dedicated arthouses. But the beauty of that, hopefully, is that the film will be discovered, enjoyed and passionately discussed by people who really love the story, are moved by its characters, and who choose to give themselves over to the unique spell created by this not-so-simple guy named Ove and his special little world, just as we did. With luck this is the secret code we have built into the film poster’s DNA: we love this movie; if you like the book, you’ll love it too.


Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books (publisher of Ove)
Q&A with Albert Tang, Art Director & Peter Borland, Editorial Director

What’s Ove looking at on the cover of the Simon & Schuster book?

Albert Tang, Art Director: We like to think he’s on neighborhood watch patrol.

Does a new film cover impact book sales?

Peter Borland, Editorial Director: The release of a film based on a book has a definite impact on sales, although the size of that impact varies depending on both the success of the film and the popularity of the book. When we publish a movie tie-in edition of a book with the poster art on the cover, we always continue to make the original edition available, because we’ve found some consumers really want the tie-in edition, but others prefer to buy it without movie art (probably so people think they read it prior to the movie’s release!).

The movie poster cliche is “heads in the sky.” Is there a book jacket design cliche?

Albert: I would say publishing has been suffering through a bit of a “woman’s back on a jacket,” or “shadowy/up to no good/ running man” phase.

Graphically speaking, what’s the most important element on a book jacket?

Albert: The most important element on a book jacket (to me) is that the jacket doesn’t fall into what I call “book shelf camouflage.” In a sea of millions of jackets, be they face-out on shelves or flat on tables, a book needs to have a visual presence. It needs to be bold, and it needs to get you to want to jump into the story. The reader is drawn in by nostalgia and drama. We’d like to think that, at least.

Check out the similarities and differences for these additional
book jackets to film posters…


Queen of Katwe in theaters: September 23, 2016


The Girl On The Train

The Girl on the Train in theaters: October 7, 2016


Middle School

Middle School in theaters: October 7, 2016


American Pastoral

American Pastoral in theaters: October 28, 2016


Inferno in theaters: October 28, 2016


Fantastic Beasts

Fantastic Beasts in theaters: November 18, 2016


A Kind of Murder

A Kind Of Murder in theaters: December 16, 2016


Patriots Day

Patriots Day in theaters: December 21, 2016



A Monster Calls in theaters: January 12, 2017

About the author: Tami Shelly is an award-winning creative director at Greenlight Creative
– a Los Angeles design agency specializing in entertainment advertising. Some clients include:
Amazon, Lionsgate, Music Box Films, Revolution Studios, MGM, NBCUniversal & Sony.

Special thanks to Music Box Films and Simon & Schuster