If this image looks eerily similar to a movie poster from a simpler, neo-maxi-zoom-dweebier time, it’s not by accident. Paramount Vantage has co-opted the iconic image from John Hughes’ 1985 classic The Breakfast Club to create the teaser poster for its upcoming summer documentary American Teen. Drawing a connection between the two films isn’t just clever marketing. Set at Warsaw Community High School in Warsaw, Indiana, American Teen chronicles a year in the lives of five very distinct high-school seniors. And just like The Breakfast Club, the doc, which caused a sensation this year at the Sundance Film Festival, examines a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse, but then delves deeper, revealing these real kids to be far more than superficial stereotypes.
It may seem odd to compare a documentary to a feature film, but American Teen writer-director Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture) saw the connection long before Vantage whipped up this poster. “Breakfast Club is one of the few teen fiction films that actually address all those teen storylines: popular girls ruling the school, the Romeo and Juliet love-story, the nerdy kid looking for acceptance,” Burstein says. “I didn’t consciously think about that when I was shooting the movie but afterwards, I realized the similarities.”
Vantage is hoping viewers will, too, and that this poster will help generate buzz that will continue to build before the film is released July 25. “I think it’s really tough for people to look at a documentary and think of it as a film,” says Guy Endore-Kaiser, co-president of marketing for Vantage, which bought the doc for $1 million. “This poster instantly puts it into the space of a movie, not just a documentary. The dream is for people to start referring to American Teen as the real-life version of The Breakfast Club.”