Collectors are increasingly turning to movie posters as an alternative investment. We explore this appreciating asset and the market trend towards collecting these historical pieces of film memorabilia.
In 2004, Christie’s sold a 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's original, doublesided poster with Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly for more than £13,145 including buyer’s premium at auction. However, if you think that figure is staggering, in 2012the international version of the Metropolis poster sold for $1.2 in a lot which included the poster for King Kong (1933), The Invisible Man (1933) and a pop memorabilia poster of Elvis Presley. The same poster holds the record for most expensive movie poster ever sold when it achieved a price of $690,000 at auction. Such high prices have lead collectors to question whether any vintage movie poster could hold significant monetary value like that of Hepburn sold at Christie’s and the lots sold at the estate sale? What makes a poster valuable? The main character’s celebrity status?Is it design or designer? The movie’s gross box office profit? By now you may bethinking that you shouldn’t have thrown away that slightly torn Raiders of the Lost Ark poster – and you probably would be right. Entertainment Memorabilia has been appreciating since the last decade with prices realizing over$100,000, however the key influencers behind a poster’s market value may be more subtle than you originally think.
In 2012, Metropolis poster sold for $1.2 million in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy estate sale.
Before film advertising turned to overproduced, loud, and ever increasing dramatic (albeit addictive) three minute trailers, the movie industry advertised their newest pictures through the common expression of artists: the work on paper. These movie posters not only served a practical marketing function, but iconicized the films through still life imagery that evoked emotion, adoration and ultimately lead the public to spend more money at the box office.
The most popular and collectable posters all have one common denominator - they memorialize the film.
It is not difficult to image the movies which define Western cinema – think ET, Gone with the Wind, The Thing, The Godfather King Kong, Indiana Jones Series, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Star Wars, and in more recent times ClockWorkOrange, Pulp Fiction, American Beauty, TheExorcist and Jaws to name a few. These cult classics have fantastical stories which highlight human (and most-likely non human) characteristics. It is even easier to list actors and directors who have made these films memorable like Marlon Brando,Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman,Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Greta Garbo, Charles Chaplin, Steve Mcqueen to Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Hitchcock, the Coen Brothers, and Stanley Kubrick.These movies show us how to behave, what to be afraid of, who and how to love,what to wear, and most importantly how to dream. The posters memorialize these behaviors and were the first collectables of modern pop culture.
Knowing the collecting market can begin with identifying the collectors themselves. The market for movie posters is rife with seasoned bullish collectors known