FAQ Movie Posters
Original movie posters, also known as film posters or cinema posters, are highly collectable and most gain in value every year.
They are being used in cinemas/theaters to promote/advertise the film and to be destroyed after use!
Movie posters, which are printed strictly as advertising material, are never meant to fall into the hands of the public. Film posters are usually printed in numbers needed to supply the theaters showing the particular film.
The movie theaters are required to return them to the originating distributing or poster company. Most of the posters are being returned to the source, but over the years posters that were stored in theater basements, poster warehouses, or distributor buildings have found their way into the hands of individuals and dealers, leading to the film posters available to collectors today.
We also consider video-posters to be original movie posters because the same rules can be applied to this kind of posters too.
Movie posters, which were printed strictly as advertising material, were never meant to fall into the hands of the public. The movie theaters they were sent to were required to return them to the originating distributing or poster company. Movie posters were usually printed in numbers needed to supply the theaters showing the particular film. Most of the posters were returned to the source after use and destroyed. This makes them pretty rare collectibles.
If you like movies there is not a better way to own a “piece” of your favourite ones!
Film posters are not only seen as collectibles but are considered important documents of the history of the 20th century. If you compare a poster printed today with one printed fifty years ago you will see not only a different work of the artist or a different way of printing but you will be able to understand that in these years the way of living is changed. Another important fact is that film posters are now sought not only by film lovers looking for a cinema poster of their favourite actress or director but there are many new collectors interested in the poster as a form of art. It is important to remember that many talented artists have designed film posters in the past. Collecting film posters may also be an investment, more and more collectors are now also considering this aspect when buying a poster.
Believe it or not that there are several important directors collecting movie posters. Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, and Peter Jackson are active collectors, but you can also be in the game! If you like movies there is not a better way to own a “piece” of your favorite ones.
The most popular movie poster size is the one sheet, 27×40/41 inches = 70×105 cm. They are printed on paper stock, and are what you see these days in most movie theaters. In the 1980’s, Disney started to produce their one sheet movie posters a little shorter, around 27 X 38 or 39. The other studios followed and today most one sheets are smaller than the classic 27X41. The present standard size is approximately 27X40/41.
The USA international style posters are produced in the U.S. for use in South America, Europe, etc.. International posters often feature artwork that is different – and sometimes more risqué – than that featured on the U.S. film poster. International cinema posters may also carry a modified title. International film posters are also generally without the M.P.A.A. rating and N.S.S. stock numbers.
While many one sheets for current release films are printed massively in the USA , many foreign countries still make their own posters for American films, with sometimes very different art, and printed in smaller numbers. For the classics the price of a foreign release poster will often (but not always) be less than the American originals, but in the case of newer titles the harder to find foreign movie posters are more valuable. Many American collectors still prefer not to buy a poster for an American film with a title and credits written in another language, despite the often superior art of the foreign film posters, but this may well change as the world gets smaller and the American equivalents of such posters become less and less affordable and available to most collectors. In recent years most countries have chosen to use the same art as on American one sheet movie posters, so they unfortunately don’t provide the art variety with the option of the English language anymore and are thus less exciting to the collector. However, a large majority of foreign cinema poster does often still provide the art variety with the option of the English language.
The field of foreign posters will always be a subject of debate, but their investment value has been proven in many cases. We (almost) only have foreign movie posters with images that are better or at least as good as the American poster for the same movie, (in most cases they are ten times better, particularly in the case of the Belgian, the Turkish, the Thai and the French posters), or posters which provide art variety with the option of the English language (like the Dutch and UK posters), thus more exciting to the US collectors! Belgian and French posters are the posters most people consider to be the most beautiful and best executed of all movie posters.
Original posters from the movie’s original country of release are the most valuable and collectible!
This is a style of film poster intended for display prior to a film’s release and used before the final style poster. For films with smaller budgets or movies that flopped at the US box office, only one poster is issued which is used as both the advance and the regular. These advertising materials are distributed well in advance of the film’s projected release. Hence the name.
An advance poster may differ significantly in artwork or is similar to the regular/final poster print but with an added line of copy for a projected date of release (e.g. “Coming This Summer” or “Coming Soon”) or in the US the abbreviation “Adv” or the words “Advance” or “Teaser” in the lower bottom corner.
A teaser poster is a special type of advance poster designed to get you interested while revealing very little info about the film, missing credits and sometimes even without the title of the film.
All teasers are advances, but not all advance posters are teasers.
These cinema posters are usually a better investment or collectible for the films that get a wide release, or those that are big hits even before they come out. They are printed in far fewer numbers, and usually in better quality than the regular one sheets. Nowadays they are often produced with a high gloss UV coating. A UV coating ensures that the posters won’t fall apart when exposed to rain or sun. A great example is the limited, double sided, laminated “Goldeneye” advance, where care was taken to create a poster of unique quality, rarely seen these days! The “Pulp Fiction” advance is another very good recent example, because it is also a withdrawn advance. A series of advance one sheets gives a little information about the film on each of the poster or a portrayal of the major characters, in which case they are called ‘Character Advances’ (e.g. “Sin City”, “Frank Miller’s The Spirit ” and “Jackie Brown”).
Most films do not have advance one sheets posters, but in cases where they exist, if you have a feeling for the potential of the film, then they are a wise investment.
Often different posters are printed for different audiences and theaters. These different posters are given a style letter. Style A can be the romantic version and style B can be the action version.
Sometimes a movie can be accompanied by an extensive promotional campaign often containing more than 10 different poster styles for use inside the USA and other countries. In these cases the teaser and advance posters usually also have a style letter.
This means the print is on both sides. Most times the print on the back is a mirror-print of the front and sometimes the colors are different (purple/red) or a few shades lighter. They are designed to be used in lightboxes in theater lobbies.
Double sided vs. Single sided:
There is some controversy surrounding this issue, in that many dealers hate to think of double sided one sheets as more valuable or rare than their original year single sided counterparts. In fact, double sided one sheets for titles for which single sided one sheets do exist are far more rare. They are also printed on better paper. Reprints were almost never made in the double sided format, so most owners of such posters were, until recently, assured of owning an original.
However, for some titles double sided one sheets do not exist at all. Sometimes the opposite is true, and all the copies printed for a poster are double sided. Most original first print runs are double sided, and following that everything is single sided. Other posters, such as those printed for Disney films, are usually made only in the double sided format.
We prefer double-sided posters over single-sided posters.
Collectors should be cautious about one sheet (and other size) reprints which are becoming increasingly common. Soon after the initial printing of one sheets for theater use, exact reprints are authorized, generally to fill the demand of the fan market. These reprints are NOT collectible, although they are completely satisfactory if a person only wants the poster for its artistic value, but don’t expect any resale value for a reprint. Unfortunately these reprints are often being sold as originals and sometimes even for a higher price.
Identifying reprints and reproductions:
Most reprints will contain additional printing along the bottom edge, identifying the printer.
The NSS National Screen Service numbers, which previously would NOT appear on a reprint, now MAY be present, making identifying reprints that much more difficult. However NSS numbers are not being used on recent posters any more, making identification of originals even more difficult. The longtime numbering standard on one sheets has disappeared.
The best advice is to look VERY closely at the smaller printing on a poster suspected of being a reprint. Often these small credits will appear hazy and not have the normal crisp appearance.
These reprints are almost never folded and printed on smooth, bright white paper.
Since it was policy prior to 1985 to ship and store posters by folding them, it is very nearly impossible to find unfolded posters prior to this time. Therefore, don’t consider folded posters that are otherwise unused to be defective in grade. Don’t expect all posters to be rolled prior to 1990!
In some cases poster which are printed on thick paper or cardboard like stock are only shipped flat. This is the case with Greek posters from Greece.
All posters in this category are original movie (video) posters as used in theaters and stores to promote/advertise the movie. Available through theater and store owners only.
These posters have a better print quality on higher quality paper than the commercial prints that are for sale in regular stores.
These posters are very collectable and gain in value every year.
Holography is a technique which allows recording of true, three-dimensional images. Theses images are called holograms. Unlike other 3D pictures, holograms provide what is called parallax which allows the viewer to look from various angles and see different perspectives as if the object were actually there. This is not the process used for posters, that process is called Lenticular.
Lenticular is a specialized printing process which differs from hologram, holograms look incredible when lit correctly while lenticulars look great in almost any kind of light.
Lenticular is a process of taking normally 12 different images interlaced in special layers into an extremely confusing image. This image is then printed onto paper or other type of material. Finally, a lens material (hence the name ‘lenticular’) is laminated in “register” to the paper or other material to block 11 of the 12 images from view, and as you turn the poster the lens reveals a different frame, creating the illusion of motion.
To see the image change the viewer or the poster needs to physically move from side to side. The lenticular posters that are printed on other materials, such as transparent paper or plastics, require direct light behind the poster in order to see the image change. These posters are used primarily in lightboxes.
Recent films to feature Lenticular one sheets are “The Frighteners,” “Bram Stoker´s Shadowbuilders,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “ID4,” “Species,” “Jack Frost,” “Final Destination,” “Men in Black 2,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “The Day After Tomorrow”.
Mylar posters are printed on sheets of mylar plastic. The plastic is then coated with either silver or gold paint and then the artwork is painted over, leaving holes to allow the silver or gold to show through. Since this is an expensive process, these posters are printed in limited numbers.
Commercial Movie Posters:
These posters are called commercial because theye are printed only for sale in regular and online stores but also gift shops.
This type of poster is not considered an originial movie collectible. They only have collectable values if they feature completely different prints and art than the original movie posters.
These posters are also commercial posters. The only difference is that they always bear the same art as the original movie posters used in movie theaters. Unfortunately these reprints are often being sold as originals and sometimes even for a higher price. This type of poster does not have any collectors value and is only interesting if you are interested in buying the original poster artwork for a fraction of the price of an original. These reprints are almost never folded, unless someone wants to fool you, and printed on smooth, bright white paper.
Promotional film posters are printed to be given away or to be won in contests. Their soul purpose is of course to promote the movie title. They are usually given away at movie theaters and stores or handed out to the press and other media.
These posters can either be printed in very large or limited numbers, sometimes bearing diffrent art than the original theater posters.
Many foreign countries made and still make their own movie and video posters for this type of films, with sometimes very different often even superior art, and printed in smaller numbers.
Please note that not all of these types of posters are listed in this category. Please visit our other categories for more interesting collectables.
Please check out our FAQs for more info on these and other movie posters.
The following are some of the common sizes of these special types of posters:
One Sheet – measures 27×40/41 inch, 70×105 cm. The most popular movie poster size, printed on paper stock and what you see these days in most movie theaters and video stores. Issued folded until the early eighties, but nowadays mostly rolled. This type of poster is often displayed in a marquee case or lightbox. The One Sheets used for the types of posters in this category are usually smaller in size.
A lot of other, usually smaller, sizes were and are also being used in video stores and theaters around the world.
Generally we tend to underrate the conditions of our posters.
We realize that everybody has his or her own standards of grading and therefore advise that, if you have any question as to what something looks like, to please mail us and we’ll try to give a more detailed description.
The bus stop/shelter/abri film poster is designed for display in the glass enclosed corner bus stop shelters. They usually measure around 45×70 inches or larger and are issued rolled in limited numbers. They feature very colorful, eye-catching and often different artwork. They are printed on a coated card or thick paper stock. Most of them are double sided and sometimes they come in series. Movie studios frequently use the bus shelter posters for major productions.
Bus stop posters are very large making them very hard to handle, store and display, but are still popular with collectors. Nowadays these posters are also being used in lightboxes outside of restaurants, movie theaters, shops, stores and Tram stop shelters. Tram shelters are called “Abri” in the Netherlands, which means shelter in French. Hence the name Abri Poster.
Original posters and banners from the original country of release of the film are the most valuable and collectible!
The field of foreign collectibles is still a subject of debate, but their investment value has been proven in many cases.
Generally we tend to underrate the conditions of our products.
We realize that everybody has his or her own standards of grading and therefore advise that, if you have any question as to what something looks like,to please mail us and we’ll try to give a more detailed description.
Most one sheets had a National Screen Service line at the bottom in the white border. The number looks like this: 66-436. The first number is the release year, the next is the film number. So you can tell that 66-436 came out in 1966 and was the 436th release that NSS printed that year. Of course, there are exceptions. Some one sheets may not have the NSS number. Instead you may find simply the name of the movie followed by the words one sheet. Or you may find only the NSS disclaimer (this poster is the property of National Screen Service… and must be returned or destroyed after use.”) Or you may find nothing!
From the standpoint of investing and collecting, it is hard to not look at the significance of Disney releases!
This is the only company with sometimes numbered, limited quantity printings of their posters, on high quality paper. It is also rumored that Disney is one of the companies that STILL actively claims ownership of all its posters & lobby cards and demands that they be returned. Of course not everybody listens, and the odds are that Disney loves the associated collectibility. The strangest thing is that Disney sells their own material at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida.
While other posters premiere on the market at €10-20, Disney animation titles often jump to €50 within a week of their release, increasing steadily from there. Even some of Disney’s non-animation releases have very limited issue posters and lobby card sets.
The border of a poster is the white area surrounding the image. Any of the defects that occur in the border have less impact on the poster or it’s value than if they appear in the actual body of the poster. Almost all contemporary posters are printed without borders nowadays.
When a poster only has three horizontal folds and no vertical ones than it’s usually a Disney poster. Because this is what they call the Disney Fold (Disney tended to fold posters that way a lot). We don´t know if they were tri-folded and then shipped flat or rolled. We, personally, would pay a bit more for a tri-folded poster because it looks a bit nicer.
We have pretty strong feelings on linen backing. We think it has run rampant for no real reason. Linen backing should be seen as a technique to preserve a poster who’s structural integrity has been so compromised that backing is required to maintain the piece. If your piece is in high grade, don’t bother. People think that the entire back of a poster can be smeared with a water based starch and married to two other foreign pieces ( Japan paper and canvas) and somehow “Near Mint” is still a valid description. Near mint should imply a piece that is very close to original condition – this just doesn´t include a 3-piece starch sandwich! (the word on the long-term impacts of backing has yet to come). Linen backing/restoration should be done only if the poster needs it to survive!