What is the cheapest movie poster you can buy? A free one, of course. 

If you have a home cinema, then movie posters are a perfect way to decorate them. Or maybe you just like movie posters around your bedroom. Or perhaps you aspire to be the next big-time movie poster collector working on your poster portfolio.

The great thing is the cheaper you can get a movie poster, the more you can spend on a nice frame, which is essential, in my opinion. But that depends on what style and look you are going for. 

Do cinemas have spare movie posters

It is important to remember cinemas are not stockists; you cannot just randomly ask for movie posters hoping they will have some saved in a back-store cupboard. 

They get given posters for marketing purposes from the studios. They are used to promote the film so that people go see the movie, then when that movie is not being shown, the movie posters will be thrown out, or employees will take some or all of them. 

The employees may keep them because they are movie buffs themselves, but you will find many of them make their way to sites like eBay. 

This is where you have an opportunity… can you source free movie posters before they are thrown out or given to employees?

Yes, you can… and it isn’t that hard, really. 

Examples of Payoff Movie Posters

Just ask

At some point, you will have to go up to someone who works at the movie theater and say something along the lines of…

Hi, how are you doing?

I was wondering if you had any spare posters of “such and such.” I really enjoyed the film and thought I could hang it up at home. 

Or you could really pull at the heartstrings and say something like…

Hi, how are you doing?

My daughter’s favorite film is “such and such.” She has asked me if she can have a poster of it; I don’t suppose you have any lying around that I can have, do you?

But there are things you will need to consider, which will increase your chances of getting a yes. Also, it’s a good idea to know what kind of poster you are asking for. Do you know the difference between a payoff and a teaser? This article clarifies:

How to increase your chances of getting free film posters

There are no hard and fast rules to this. You could do everything “wrong” and get a load of free movie posters. Or you could do everything “right” and never get a free poster. 

This is how I try to go about it, and I seem to get better than average success. 

Go to the same cinema as often as possible

I have an unlimited/points card for my local cinema, so I always go to the same one. If you usually go to a range of cinemas, then try to just go to the same one as much as possible. 

You want to be known at the cinema and for the employees to recognize you. While there is a pretty high staff turnover at cinemas, it is relatively easy to go enough to be recognized. 

Especially by supervisors and managers because they will have generally worked at the cinema longer than the floor staff. 

Be nice

From the ticket sellers to the stub takers, to the food staff… be very nice to everyone. Be pleasant and polite; you want them to think you are a nice person. 

Please don’t get in the way of them doing their job, as there is nothing worse than trying to start up a conversation with someone who is extremely busy. But if there is a quiet spell and they seem to have a bit of spare time, then do try to strike up short conversations. 

Just asking them if they have seen the movie you are about to watch is a good start, and ask them if they like it, etc. 

Indoor Theater
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Be tidy

If you are in the lobby, seating area, or the bar before the film, then tidy up after yourself and put things in the provided bins. If you have an empty glass at the bar table, take it back to the bar. It is surprising how much they will remember things like that. 

It’s easier said than done if you have popcorn but leave your theater seat as tidy as possible too. You don’t have to take everything away with you, but you can place your sweet wrappers inside an empty drinks container instead of leaving them on the floor. 

Build relationships

You aren’t looking to find a best man here or a bridesmaid, but if you can get friendly enough with multiple staff where they at least know your name. Then that could be a significant advantage. Obviously, the higher up those employees are, the better, but it isn’t necessary to target management per se. 

If you can build a relationship where you don’t even have to ask about getting a free poster, and instead, they will offer you ones they think you will like… well, that is the Holy Grail right there. 

Timing

Timing is everything. 

A movie poster’s function is to make cinemas money. If a poster goes up for a big blockbuster, three months before it is released. Then don’t ask for it then; why would they give you promotional material at that point in time. 

The best chance you have of getting a poster is just after it has been taken down or is about to be taken down. 

Unless employees have already stated they want the posters, there is no further hassle for someone at the cinema to give you the poster than to throw it in the bin. 

Poster Collecting
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Long term poster collecting

It’s great that you stumbled upon this article. If you are brand new to poster collecting, then stockpiling a collection is one way to create an investment that may increase value over time. In fact, numerous collectible movie posters were sold in the six figures!

Curious about some of the most desirable posters on the planet? Then you will want to read this article:

And of course, we had to write a post about lousy movie posters, which you can see here.

Conclusion

You want to do everything in your power to get a “yes,” but even then, it is often down to luck. So, ask and see what happens. 

Just remember, people, remember bad behavior probably more than good behavior. If someone snapped at me one week and then the next week asked for a free movie poster… then you can guess what I would say.  

And speaking of saying things we say and believe, it’s a good idea to sign up for our newsletter as our site is dedicated to inspiring, sharing, and educating our readers with information regarding movie posters.

We are also developing an online course dedicated to movie poster design and soon a class on movie poster collecting. If you want to be notified when classes are available, sign up for our non-spammy newsletter today! You’ve got nothing to lose.