Movie posters have always generated anticipation in audiences, and have retained their effectiveness by adapting to the marketplace.

In the 1970s, a gradual shift from matte to clay-coated glossy paper encouraged new designs. Star Wars and Star Trek posters increased in popularity and were responsible for making movie poster collectors out of fans.

Designers in the 1980s and 1990s played with a more versatile mini-sheet, consisting of smaller posters released in advance to generate early interest.

The 21st century has seen experimental marketing through the medium, using lenticular posters in campaigns for The Matrix Reloaded, The Day After Tomorrow, Finding Nemo and, currently, Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider and The Illusionist.

The development of the medium has taken a turn for the hi-tech. In 2005, Buena Vista International broke the mould with its electronic bus-shelter posters for films such as Sin City and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

Increased usage of the medium is largely down to the decrease in cost. Some years ago, UK distributors could expect to pay $2,900-$5,800 (£1,500-£3,000) for a single, standard six-sheet lenticular poster but the cost is now $100-$685 (£50-£350).

"Posters are a hugely growing medium for distributors in general," says Deborah Sheppard, marketing director at Paramount Pictures UK. "They are used more widely now than ever, and new development supports the fact there is much more desire by poster contracts to engage consumers."