Analysing Magazine Covers: Empire: ‘Inception’….

Posted: January 4, 2011 in Media

For one of the ancillary tasks in my project I will have to create a magazine front cover where my film (that I’m creating the trailer for) is the main feature. So due to this I have conducted some initial and basic research into the usual conventions and components of film magazine covers so that I can see what audiences/consumers may expect from it and decided whether or not I will conform to these codes and conventions (very much like I have done already in the research of trailers and films within my chosen genre too)…

So I started out by searching what film magazines there are currently and which are the most popular, overall ‘Empire’ and ‘Total Film’ magazine I deemed the most well-known. This was due to the fact that upon more research I discovered that ‘Empire’ magazine allegedly is the biggest selling film magazine in Britain, while ‘Total Film’ magazine remains its biggest rival.

So I searched for a range of I view to be quite different magazine covers (differing in how they are promoting different genres of film, older or newer films, or are from different magazine companies etc) and both highlighted and labelled them myself to outline their different features. I’ll upload both the original magazine cover (so you can see what it looks like all together and then individually explain its features, what they’re for and what they suggest to me)…

(Oh and I’m sorry if I missed a couple of features out on the ‘labelling’ part, but if I did it doesn’t mean they will be missed out completely as I’ll still analyse and explain them…)

Empire Magazine Cover #1 (Inception)

1- ‘The Dark Knight returns…’

explanation & Analysis…

This is known as Anchorage text, as the text is explaining what the main feature of the front cover (which I view to be the image of Leonardo Di Caprio in his role within the film ‘Inception’). Having this layered across the top of the page signifies the text’s importance and therefore catches the reader’s eye. By mentioning the film ‘The Dark Knight’ this cleverly reaches out to a certain target audience and grabs their attention, as it is suggesting that the film (or the style of the director Christopher Nolan more specifically) has ‘returned’ to the big screen. This makes any reader who has watched/enjoyed ‘The Dark Knight’ immediately interested to see how it has returned and what the text is trying to introduce to them.

2-The name of the magazine, which is ‘Empire’

explanation & Analysis…

The name of this feature is the masthead which is the title block of the cover, taking up most of the room of the cover itself. This is to ensure that one of the most important features of the magazine cover, which is its name, (which will be one of the biggest aspects that will get it recognized by readers, much like how a logo would) is clearly seen on the front cover. Having it across the top of the magazine (well almost) signifies its importance also. Having the text ‘Empire’ in thick, red letters also makes the masthead easier to see and therefore helps ensure it is not missed by possible consumers. There is use of super imposition as the main image of actor Leonardo Di Caprio is layered over the top of the word ‘Empire’ which does a good job of still making the masthead easy to read and recognize as well as giving a more ‘professional’ feel. Super imposition helps the text and images to come together in what I feel to be quite an artistic way, as both the text and images can be layered over one another instead of having to helplessly try to squeeze in a certain amount of separate space for either one.

3- The Tagline


explanation & Analysis…

 ‘The world’s biggest movie magazine’ – This is the tagline or slogan of the Magazine company itself. Although it appears in a rather small text and is somewhat pushed into the top left hand corner (so it can be argued to also be a pug) the text itself does hold a lot of value. This is because it helps to sell the magazine, as it claims to be the ‘world’s biggest’ and this make consumer’s presume it must contain a lot of knowledge of the film industry and perhaps more so than any other magazine of its genre. It helps compete against other film-based magazines as it more-or-less claims be the best.  

4- Website

explanation & Analysis…

’’ – by having the website in the top right corner (so it can be claimed to be a pug also) this makes the website easy to be seen by consumers and therefore evidently holds some importance. Websites are often displayed upon front covers of magazines to allow consumers to get more involved with the magazine by going online. As well as this it provides a boost for the overall size of the magazine’s popularity as it reaches out to possible consumers who perhaps cannot afford to buy their magazine as often as it is released (which for ‘Empire’ is monthly). By using different media, like here the internet is used, it provides a bigger and more ranged way for consumers to get information on the magazine and therefore increases the magazine’s overall success.

 5-Central Image

explanation & Analysis…

The central image and I’d say main feature of the front cover of this magazine (as it occupies most of the space) is the image of actor Leonardo Di Caprio within his role in the film ‘Inception’ (which is what the front cover of the magazine is mainly promoting and ‘selling’ to the consumer, much like how the front cover I will create will be ‘selling’ my own film). Overall the image is very basic but I think quite intriguing and eye-catching. Afterall, Leonardo Di Caprio is a very popular and recognizable film star, so his appearance on the front cover of this magazine is sure to catch many people’s, and especially his fan’s, eye. As one of the main characters of the film the magazine is promoting, and as I said before, a very big star, Leonardo Di Caprio featuring on the front cover will instantly get fans wanting to read or buy the magazine to see which new film he is featuring in and whether or not they may enjoy it. Having his image directly in the centre of the cover signifies his importance as well as instantly revealing tot he audience what film the magazine is promoting here. Mise en scene is also used well- Di Caprio is dressed rather formally and has a very smooth hair style- all of this suggesting his character will be serious and important, but not revealing much to the audience as to how or why this is at the same time. The most intriguing part of the image though is Di Caprio’s focused expression and the gun gripped tightly in his hand- suggesting an action or perhaps thriller film and will therefore interest audiences in discovering who Di Caprio’s character is and exactly why he has a gun.

6- ‘Batman 3- Nolan talks his Gotham trilogy and Superman’

explanation & Analysis…

 As as being Anchorage text to some extent, as it is linked to the central image from the film ‘Inception’ (which Nolan also directed) this feature is also known as a puff- as it is giving the consumers information about what they could read inside. By doing this it gets the audience interested, and furthermore makes them want to buy the magazine (which I suppose is the main point of the front cover of a magazine) as the puff here does well, as it mentions films director Christopher Nolan has already made (like the popular Batman films ‘Batman Begins’ & ‘The Dark Knight’) as well as ones he’s planning to direct in the future (The third Batman film and by the looks of it, and possibly a Superman film too). This hints to probably and interview inside which will probably interest most consumers and in particular Nolan’s fans as the puff hints that he will be discussing the films he is well-known and popular for as well as ones that may be released in the near-future, which will ultimately get consumer’s excited and they’ll want to read about these possible new releases. I’d also like to add that the puffs as a whole are quite easy to read (they stand out as they are written in black and situated on quite a light background) and cleverly fit into the main theme of the front cover of the magazine (they are slanted like the buildings in the background, which ties into the film being promoted, which is ‘Inception’) and this, as a whole, makes the front cover look more stylish and professional.

7- ‘Thor- First look at Branagh’s God of thunder!’

explanation & Analysis…

This is a combination of a puff and a buzz word- helping to ‘sell’ the film ‘Thor’ to the audience by describing it as a ‘God of Thunder!’ is a quick and easy way to get them interested in the film itself (so they’ll want to look inside and read more about it) and name dropping ‘Branagh’ (which I think must be Kenneth Branagh) will ultimately get his fans personally interested and of course, his name will get them wanting to buy the magazine to read about this new film (which he stars in). As well as this by stating it is a ‘First look’ the puff makes the assumption that this is the first piece of news available about the film, and therefore appeals to consumers as it seems exclusive and not available anywhere else (this is another way the front cover attempts to battle against other, rival magazines).

8- ‘Christopher Nolan’s’

explanation & Analysis…

Written in white letters and put across the top of the film name, this makes the consumer’s instantly realise that it is Christopher Nolan that has directed this new film. Therefore, as it is linked to and explaining the image, this is anchorage text also. As Nolan is an acclaimed and much-loved director for his previous films (most notably ‘The Dark Knight’) this is most likely to have been featured on the front cover as it will catch the attention of the consumers who are fans of Nolan’s previous work. The text is super imposed over the image of Di Caprio to make it clear to readers that the text is explaining the image to them.


explanation & Analysis…

The bold red letters make sure this anchorage text is not missed as it is probably the most important piece of information the reader’s need to get them interested. It gives the name of the film that is being promoted ‘Inception’ and therefore is super imposed over the top of the central image and is positioned in the middle of the front cover to make it catch the reader’s eye and easy to spot (it also suggests the film title’s importance).

10-‘The Matrix meets 007- “On steroids!” ‘

explanation & Analysis…

Placed below the film’s title is more anchorage text which is also super imposed over the central image. Written in smaller letters and white writing, this is still clear to see but obviously not as important as the film’s name. The text helps to ‘sell’ the film being promoted with what appears to be a snippet from a review on it. The review name drops other classic films which helpfully gives the consumer’s an instant idea of what the film in question will be like and whether they may like it or not. For example, they will probably like ‘Inception’ if they like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘James Bond’ films. This can also be argued to be a puff- as the review this piece comes from may be featured inside and this may get consumer’s wanting to review in full to see what it says about the film (and this will get them wanting to see it or not depending on what the review says about it). 

11- ‘Dream access to the movie event of 2010’

explanation & Analysis…

Super imposed to look like a sticker over the central image (though not quite big enough to cover up much of the image) this feature is a buzzword as well as a puff. The gold, white and black colour code makes whatever the magazine is offering look glamorous and therefore this catches the reader’s eye- ‘dream access’ also implies that the magazine is offering the consumer something spectacular, as ‘dream’ indicates it is beyond this world and better than anything reality could offer them (though that may be stretching it a bit). But it gets the readers wondering about what this ‘movie event’ is and it is implied they can find out if they look inside, so they’ll, of course, want to read it and perhaps even buy it to find out what the puff is talking about (as it hints but doesn’t really explain, much like a trailer does…)

12-‘Predators- Rodriguez’s Jungle Rumble Reboot’ & ‘Let Me In- A modern horror classic re-vamped’

explanation & Analysis…

Both of these pieces are puffs and use clever language devices to get consumers interested in what may be inside the magazine itself. For example, by using repetition ‘rumble reboot’ this is quick and snappy, and therefore catches the reader’s attention, and name dropping ‘Rodriguez’ also helps to get certain consumer’s attention. The ‘Let Me In’ puff also quickly catches consumer’s attentions as well as, in a short number of words, gets to the point of what the film is (genre/story wise) as well as what they could read about it inside. The puff also uses the fact that the film is a remake to get more consumer’s interested as it catches the interest of the fans of the original as they’ll want to see how good the new, ‘re-vamped’ version of the film really is.

13- ‘Toy Story 3- Woody & Buzz: The Last Crusade’ & ‘Jonah Hex- The good, the bad and the really ugly’

explanation & Analysis…

These are puffs also, and similar tot he others, quickly and in a short number of words, get to the point of the film they’re promoting and what consumer’s can expect to see featured inside. Language devices are used again to gain consumer interest, such as humour and play on words ‘The good, the bad and the really ugly’ (which is clever as this humour targets film lovers specifically because it is twisting a name of a classic film to describe this new one). The use of such a short amount of words, such as ‘Woody & Buzz: The Last crusade’ is useful as it is so short it makes the consumers want to read more about it so these words can be explained. Also, the puffs are clever as they offer something for every reader: they hint to different films that feature in the issue that are of different genres- so not just one certain audience is targeted but a whole range, as we have thrillers such as ‘Jonah Hex’, horrors such as ‘Let Me In’ and children’s entertainment such as ‘Toy Story 3’.

14- ‘Plus! The complete Hitchcock, part 1’

explanation & Analysis…

This is a buzzword, and placed in the very bottom left hand corner of the magazine cover signifies that it is not about or linked tot he main theme of the cover (which is the film ‘Inception’). But having it in red makes it eye-catching, and with the words ‘Plus!’ situated in a black box near the top of the feature it useful as it indicates that this is special and not to be missed (which will make the consumers want to buy the magazine). Also, mentioning  ‘Hitchcock’ is a useful device to get the consumer’s interested as he is a very famous and popular director, therefore by mentioning his name this will interest his fans into seeing what the magazine has to offer them. By saying that this is ‘part 1’ of the feature also indicates that the consumers can expect more from it too in the future and therefore they’ll want to read or perhaps even collect the very first one.

15- Barcode & Price

explanation & Analysis…

Simple enough really, this is situated in the bottom right hand corner so as to take up as little room as possible as it is important but does not help get the consumer’s interest in buying the magazine like the other features do (the price certainly doesn’t!)


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