(His replies to correspondence with John L. My comments in italics.)
I did do publicity work on the 1973 The Wicker Man although I should point
out it wasn't for the original release of the film. I was hired in 1978 or 1979
(I now forget which) when the film was acquired from Warner Bros. for an
independent release. That release was quite successful for not being from
a studio but wasn't the initial release.
The Wicker Man was the first film I worked on independently as a consultant.
I designed the new poster (the sun mandala over the silhouettes of the
Summerisle residents in their animal masks), created and produced the
little black buttons, wrote the new press kit, arranged for lots of press
screenings, and articles, and such. And spent some time with both Robin
Hardy and Christopher Lee for publicity appearances. We also found the
original song sound track recordings and while we didn't get a record deal
at the time, made it possible for future distributors to make such a deal.
The company I was hired by was Summerisle Releasing (and the first version
of the posters say "A Summerisle Film Release”). That company was run by
Ron Weinberg and Micheline Charest. They were husband and wife and this
was their first release. Ron had previously worked in independent distribution
for other companies. I knew Stirling Smith and worked with him later at other
companies, where, as a consultant, I designed several posters for him. I don't
remember that Stirling had anything to do with The Wicker Man but he bounced
around to so many companies he very well could have. Just not at the time that
I was working on it.
When Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the film and designed what I consider
to be a terrible poster -- the one that's most commonly seen; the one that gives
away the surprise ending -- they had a couple of test markets. More like a week
than a day (I had mentioned a one night stand in Nevada.) and I remember one was in Texas but don't remember where else.
Anyway, they marketed the film as a horror film instead of a suspense thriller -- no
doubt because of Christopher being in it -- to disastrous results and shelved it.
Ron & Micheline picked it up and ran with it.
We released the film here in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. This was 1978.
I now recall because I remember we were second only to Superman in the cities
we were playing in. Ron & Micheline continued with their release, bicycling the
film city by city, but my association ended because I was hired to design and write
the materials, not for the continuing run. At some point, distribution rights flowed
from one hand to another. I'm pleased, though, that many subsequent distributors
continued using my poster design.
Yes, that was the poster I designed. (I had offered this link.)
No, those aren't the buttons. (I had offered this link.) I just took a quick look on line but can't find an image
of the buttons. They were small metal buttons showing the sun mandala on a black
background. We gave them away as promotional items. I have some here some
place and will photograph one when I find them.
I do have some TWM material left, including copies of the press kit,
the poster, and the buttons. But not immediately to hand. As I recall,
our press kit was a glossy white folder with the sun mandala on the
front. But it's been a long time. If and when I come across items, I'll
try to remember to shoot photos.
That looks like it although the image here seems sharper than the quality
of printing -- directly onto the metal -- that Ron & Micheline were willing to
spring for. This might have been a later reproduction or it could just have
been better than my memory of the buttons.
8/9/17 FB group post from Fintan (related to this image)
I *think* I came up with that copy line. Hard to remember this far away in time from when we did it.
I didn't draw anything. I'm not an artist. But I did design the poster and brought in a graphic artist to assemble the elements and oversaw her work.
The silhouettes were from a blow up of a frame of the film that we solarized to take away the details of the images.
We borrowed the mandala from the cover of the hardback book.
As to the font, back then you didn't have a thousand fonts on your computer. You went to a "type house" and looked through their sample book. You picked out one you liked and then they'd print out the text you wanted in the sizes you needed. I picked one that I thought was appropriate to the mood of the film.
One thing most people don't notice -- which we didn't want them to notice -- is the poster is actually a black & white poster with a little bit of spot color. The distributor didn't have enough money to pay for printing a full color poster so I designed something that *looks* like we made deliberate choices to limit the color palette. Because of our judicious use of the one color (and overlaying black on it to give more shade gradations) it doesn't look like what it is.
I was actually hired to be the publicist for the film release. I wrote the press kit and press releases, came up with the buttons we gave away (gold versions of the mandala on a black background), designed the poster, booked Christophe Lee on local TV talk shows, tried to set up a record deal for the film (though it fell through when the partners behind Varese Saraband got into a fist fight over whether to do the album), set up press screenings, etc.
I have a framed version of the poster on my office wall.