Are you a film fanatic who wants all the best a film has to offer? Do you like owning a small part of the film franchise in the form of a poster but don’t want to shell out large amounts of money? Fortunately, there are a few ways to get a free poster, and they’re perfectly legal! 

Asking movie theaters for a free copy of a movie poster is the best and safest way to get a free poster. However, you can also get one by participating in contests and attending conventions. Always be careful not to download or purchase illegal, pirated materials. 

If you’re looking for ways to get your hands on a free poster, keep reading!  

What’s the Best Way to Get Free Movie Posters? 

The best way to get a free movie poster is through movie theaters. Occasionally on opening day, theaters give away complimentary movie posters for the film. Theaters also sometimes have a surplus of promotional posters, which you can ask for from the staff or management. 

There are several creative ways to get a free movie poster. Some of the best practices include the following: 

  • Seeing the movie on its release date in theaters
  • Requesting a poster from the movie theater staff 
  • Legally make copies of old posters without copyright 
  • Enter a raffle 
  • Enter a contest 
  • Attend movie conventions 

Sometimes movie theaters run a promotion on opening night. If you buy a ticket for the first release day, you can occasionally receive a promotional poster at the theater. You need to arrive early, though, to make sure they have enough copies. 

Movie poster contests or raffles are other options. You might need to pay an entry fee to participate, but it’ll probably be cheaper than buying a brand-new one. 

You can find these contests in magazines and websites. But the best option is to participate in a competition at a convention like Comic Con.

Some old movie posters are no longer protected by copyright. After 50-70 years, most movies no longer have copyright protection which means you can use the images and portions of the film. In these instances, you can make a copy of an old film poster, but make sure you know the copyright is expired. (Consult an attorney if you have questions and concerns) 

Awesome Movie Posters

Is it Legal to Download Movie Posters Online? 

It’s illegal to download posters online without permission from the owner. Some copyright owners choose to release ownership to creative commons, but you must verify this before making a copy. You can also use movie poster images under fair use laws, but there are rules you need to follow before using them. 

Online shops such as Open Culture offer easy access to several downloadable copies of movie posters. But they only sell posters that are legal since the copyright has expired. 

While some websites offer free movie poster downloads, do not use these websites. Most of the time, they’re pirated, which is highly illegal. Piracy is a federal and international crime involving illegally using, selling, or distributing materials. 

You can’t use digital material without permission from the copyright owner. Purchasing illegally manufactured material is illegal not just for the company selling it but for the person who buys it. 

Another concern about these websites is they often have phishing and hacking scams. If you download material, it can have a bug that steals your information or other private information from your phone or laptop. 

Can You Ask For Free Posters at the Theaters? 

You can request free posters at the movie theaters, but timing is essential. You shouldn’t ask for free posters on opening night since the theaters still need them for promotional purposes. However, if you have friends at the theater, there’s a good chance you can get one after the release date.  

We put together an excellent guide to help you score a free movie poster from the theater. You’ll increase your odds of landing a free poster if you do the following: 

  • Ask for it towards the end of the film release
  • Befriend the staff 
  • Be courteous 
  • Don’t demand anything 
  • Keep your theater seat clean

The theater staff appreciates tidy and polite visitors. They’re less likely to do you a favor if you’re unwilling to give something back. Additionally, if they know you personally, you’re more likely to get a gift from them. 

Be kind, friendly, and polite to the staff. Most theaters give different promotional posters to their team as a reward, but if they have extra, you want to be sure they think of you.

Side note, movie theaters are generally not allowed to sell movie posters as they have agreements with the movie studios that prevent such actions.

Movie Poster

Can You Make Copies of Movie Posters? 

You should not make copies of a movie poster. This is especially true if you plan to give or sell them away. Unless you have permission to copy a movie poster, you can not copy or sell movie posters. 

There are specific laws regulating and restricting the use of copyright material. Fair use laws permit particular uses of copyright material but don’t explicitly permit copying materials. 

Courts in the US previously ruled that copying and selling movie images on t-shirts or other objects is allowed. However, it’s only permitted if the copyright has expired or if it qualifies as a parody of the film. 

You can’t legally copy movie posters for your use or for others to use.  The funny thing is that original Bull Durham movie posters are highly sought after, just don’t go off printing them on your own.

How Can You Tell if a Movie Poster Was Pirated? 

You can determine if a poster is unofficial by its appearance and dimensions. Official posters typically have larger sizes with transparent colors and outlines. If the poster looks foggy or the images aren’t positioned correctly on the poster, it could be pirated. 

Some of the most telling signs that a movie poster was pirated include the following: 

  • Size is incorrect 
  • Finish 
  • Paper type 
  • Single slides
  • Image set up
  • Foggy image

The most common signs of a pirated poster (or a bootleg) are spelling errors and incorrect fonts. Movie poster producers usually have selected uniform font styles across poster production. 

If the movie title looks even slightly off, there’s a good chance it’s pirated. Unofficial or unlicensed companies are likelier to make mistakes and mess up the poster design. 

If the images are unclear, the production wasn’t as high quality as the professional company. 

Finally, most modern posters are double-sided, with perhaps another film image or characters’ names. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s something you should look out for as indicative of pirated material. 

Movie Poster Book

Can You Get in Trouble for Purchasing or Downloading a Pirated Movie Poster? 

Purchasing a pirated movie or movie poster is not legal. However, the legal repercussions aren’t as severe as selling or distributing pirated materials; it is illegal. To avoid purchasing pirated material, look for signs of misspelled or misrepresented images and words. 

Piracy originally applied to theft on the high seas and the unauthorized sale of stolen goods. This high-seas theft and distribution are where we get the term “pirate.” However, after the creation of the digital age, these rules apply to digital, non-physical goods. 

Therefore, purchasing pirated material supports the illegal production and distribution of copyrighted material. This applies to images, the written word, and film. 

We go deeper on this topic with fan art as well in Is Fan Art Plagiarism? How To Safely Sell Your Artwork!

Posters are part of the investment of the film studio, and misusing this content is unfair. Make sure you find a reliable place to get free movie posters without supporting the illegal sale of this content. 

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article helps you find the best way to get a free movie poster. Just make sure you’re careful you don’t download or take any free or unlawfully copied content. 

Make sure you only get either original copies or official reproductions. These reproductions are produced by companies legally allowed to create this content with a license.

We have a lot of informative and helpful content on our blog, so be sure to check it out! 


Quora: How can I get free movie posters?

Poster Grind: Do Movie Posters Have Copyright?

Open Culture: 10,000 Classic Movie Posters Getting Digitized & Put Online by the Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin: Free to Browse & Download

Interpol: Accessing free or cheap content is not the bargain you think it is!

Poster Grind: How To Get Free Movie Posters from Theaters? (Perfect for home cinemas)

Balough Law: Frankly, My Dear, It Has No Copyright

Cinema Poster Gallery: Can I be sure this Cinema Poster is Authentic?

Constitutional Rights Foundation: CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FOUNDATION Bill of Rights in Action WINTER 2008 (Volume 23, No. 4)

Poster Grind: Can I Use Movie Posters On My Blog? (Should I Credit The Owner?)