The contrasting colors orange and blue appear together so often in movie posters and videogame box art as to inspire countless blog posts, tumblrs, and even their own entry on TV Tropes. Intrigued by the entertainment industry's orange/blue affinity, Edmund Helmer — a masters student studying statistics at Stanford — decided to visualize the use of different hues in film trailers. The end result is as telling as it is beautiful.

Writes Helmer on BoxOfficeQuant (his blog, which is dedicated — awesomely — to the statistical analysis of cinema):

Some people have commented and researched how often [orange and blue] appear in movies and movie posters, and so I wanted to take it to the next step and look at the colors used in film trailers. Although I'd like to eventually apply this to films themselves, I used trailers because 1) They're our first window into what a movie will look like, and 2) they're easy to get (legally). So I've downloaded all the trailers available on, 312 in total – not a complete set, but the selection looks random enough – and I've sampled across all the frames of these trailers to extract their Hue, Saturation, and Value.


The result is the chart featured here, where each projecting bar corresponds to the prevalence of its color across the trailers sampled:

Really great work.

For more — including an awesome interactive plot that illustrates the average hues, individual spectra and the distributions of reds, greens and blues in all 312 movies — check out Helmer's blog, BoxOfficeQuant.


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