Before movies were marketed with multibillion-dollar advertising budgets, most moviegoers were sucked into new films almost entirely based off of the posters made to promote them!
In the early days of film these posters and all the heavy lifting when it came to marketing and advertising, and some of the most influential artists in the world built their careers on the back of this kind of work.
Today movie posters rarely have the same kind of charm or appeal that posters even up until the 1970s and 80s had, but all that’s done is make the older “gold standard” posters even more valuable for collectors.
We should also mention that not all posters from the 80s were awesome; in fact, there are some real duds which we point out here.
Below we breakdown 10 of the most desirable movie posters you’ll want to add to your collection ASAP.
Let’s jump right in!
Both versions of the poster for this 1927 silent film are incredibly valuable, with the International version of the poster slightly rarer and just a bit more expensive. Apparently, there are only 4 left in the world.
An international version of Metropolis is the current world record holder for the most valuable movie poster on the planet, selling for north of $1,200,00 in 2012 at a Los Angeles bankruptcy auction to Ralph DeLuca.
It’s also worth noting that Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio was rumored to have bought one at auction in 2005 for around $690,000.
You might have to settle for a bootleg print of this one.
The Mummy Poster
Pretty much every Boris Karloff movie poster is collectible, rare, and valuable – but The Mummy posters are particularly hard to find, visually arresting, and definitely belong in the hands of every serious collector.
The movie (from 1932) has become one of the most enduring horror classics in film history, but the artwork on the poster is downright gorgeous.
The colors are incredible, the composition is top shelf, and it really sells the spirit of the film in a way that modern movie posters never pull off quite as well.
Before people went crazy over the Metropolis movie posters this was the most valuable one on the planet, selling for $435,000 back in 1995.
And most recently one was put up for auction with Sotheby’s in 2018 and most likely sold for over $1,000,000.
The Black Cat
Another Boris Karloff gem of a film, The Black Cat was released in 1934 and had half a dozen different poster designs released all over the United States leading up to its theatrical open.
The Style D version of these posters are often described as more visually interesting and more dramatic, but the Style B versions of this poster are significantly rarer and more valuable. One sold for a cool $334,000 in 2009, for example.
If you can get your hands on the three sheet set for the 1933 picture King Kong (sometimes called the Style A poster) the odds are pretty good it’s going to be the centerpiece of your movie poster collection.
Tall, colorful, and incredibly dramatic – portraying the iconic fight at the top of the Empire State building between King Kong and airplanes while holding a beautiful woman in his other hand – a version of this iconic movie poster last broke records selling for almost $250,000 in 1999.
That’s a decent chunk of change for a movie nearly 100 years old!
The One Sheet for Jaws is far and away one of the most iconic movie posters in film history, one that absolutely everyone recognizes, and one responsible for creating the very first ever summer blockbuster.
Steven Spielberg reportedly welled up with tears when he saw the artwork for this poster, recognizing instantly that it captured the mood, the atmosphere, and the energy of his picture perfectly.
Original copies of this poster are little more accessible than the ones we highlighted above, though you’ll still have to pony up $3000 (or more) for one in mint condition.
From Russia with Love
If you’re looking to add a Bond movie poster to your collection you could do a lot worse than snapping up the UK World Premier version of this 1963 classic starring Sean Connery.
Not only is the artwork gorgeous, filled to the brim with imagery that just screams old school James Bond, but it also happens to be the poster for what many consider to be the best Connery Bond film.
Oversized (measuring 30” x 40”), they are reasonably easy to find at halfway decent prices – as long as you’re willing to settle for something lower than mint condition.
There aren’t a lot of movie posters from the 1990s on that are particularly collectible, if only because at this point posters were mass-produced and pumped out pretty much everywhere – depressing their value quite a bit.
However, the Pulp Fiction Advance One Sheet from 1994 bucks that trend in a big way.
This version (the Advanced One Sheet) features main cast member Uma Thurman smoking a Lucky Strike cigarette – something that the artist did not get the green light for ahead of time.
The RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company threatened to sue Miramax over the dust up, forcing the company to pull these posters from circulation and replacing the cigarettes with a generic brand for future versions.
Originals can sell for anywhere between $1000 and $4000, and sometimes a little more. It’s a cool poster to have for sure.
The Italian four sheet for Casablanca is absolutely gigantic, measuring 4.5’ x 6.5’, and is a true one-of-a-kind original.
Only one of these movie posters is believed to exist any longer (an original, anyway). The last time it sold was for nearly $500,000 in 2017, even though it had rips, tears, minor flaws, and even a few thumbtack holes – usually a big “no-no” in the high-end poster collector world.
But when you’re talking about a one-of-a-kind original featuring Bogey in maybe the most iconic movie in human history those kinds of things can be overlooked.
Prints and copies are available for sure, though finding one as big as the original can take a little bit of extra searching. It’s worth it, though, if you’ve got the space.
Return of the Jedi
While not the most expensive of all the Star Wars movie posters out there, the Advance Teaser One Sheet Recalled is definitely one of the most collectible and probably the most often counterfeit Star Wars poster there is.
That’s because this version of the poster features the original title of the movie instead of the title that we all know and love.
Before the 1983 opening of Return of the Jedi the movie was actually going to be called Revenge of the Jedi, with 9000 versions of this poster printed out and distributed for release.
Lucas decided that revenge wasn’t befitting a Jedi Knight, changed the title of the movie last minute, and these Advance copies of the poster were recalled.
6800 of them of them were still released to the general public and are now some of the most sought-after collectibles for movie poster and Star Wars fans alike.
A Clockwork Orange
After Stanley Kubrick worked to cut some material from the original release of this 1971 classic the film was given an R rating instead of an X, allowing it to be shown to a much wider audience.
Kubrick decided to change up the artwork on the re-release, going with the same style from the paperback version of the original novel.
The alternate poster artwork enjoyed a limited printing, making these originals pretty valuable (with mint copies commanding $9,000 or more at auction).
Poster collecting can be a fantastic hobby and an obsession for others. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this quick list with some fun facts and high prices.
If you are into poster collecting and history and want more then these two articles may whet your appetite:
- How to Tell If a Star Wars Poster is Original (Tell-Tail Signs)
- What Is A Quad Film Poster? (All You Need to Know)
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