When Star Wars was released in 1977, it totally transformed the moviegoing community completely, setting into motion what has become one of history’s most beloved film franchises.
Everything from that original release – and we mean everything, from ticket stubs to toys and everything else – has become insanely collectible.
Few things, however, are quite as in demand or as coveted as the legendary original Start Wars movie posters.
Sometimes referred to as “Style A Star Wars” movie posters, these poster designs were created by artist Tom Jung in 1977. These are amongst some of the most collectible items in the Star Wars world, with collectors paying anywhere from $500 to $50,000 – and sometimes more (sometimes much more) than that to get their hands on one.
The trouble with something this collectible, though, is that there are always going to be reproductions, knockoffs, and straight out counterfeits that flood the market.
To help you avoid those con jobs ending up in your collection we put together this guide.
Use the inside information below to help you figure out if a Star Wars poster is a legitimate original or an imposter.
Let’s jump right in! But before we do, I would always advise you to get your potential movie poster acquisition certified and looked over by a true professional. This way, you are less likely to lose $100s if not $1000s of dollars on bootlegs! Don’t get scammed.
Identifying Star Wars Style A Posters
These posters are the true originals, the posters that launched even before the Star Wars movie did, and the posters that were used by theaters all over the US to get audiences in the seats to see this sci-fi classic.
The first way to identify that you have a legit poster is to double check its overall dimensions.
The outside borders should measure 24 15/16 inches to 25 inches (no more and no less), and there should be an exactly 1-inch white border on the left of the poster. The right border should be 1 inch in diameter as well, though some copies came in 1/16 of an inch smaller or larger and are still totally legit.
On the bottom of these posters, you’ll find that the word Copyright has a very small indent about 1/8 of an inch, and the © sits below the image and above the credits.
The Graphic Arts International logo, as well as the lithograph information, is going to be closer to the bottom edge of the poster than it is to the blue border and is always going to be just a little bit off-center.
The printer for these posters was National Screen Services, and you should be able to find their company trademark somewhere on the poster. Because they printed these throughout the 1980s, the trademark bounces around a little bit, but it should be somewhere on the poster for sure.
You can find even more discrepancies with the series A at Movie Poster Collectors Guide.
Identifying Star Wars Style C Posters
These posters are very similar to the Series A posters described above, but the easiest way to tell legitimate ones apart from counterfeits is to look at the dot pattern of the print itself.
If the dots are perfectly round (and I mean perfectly round, with clean circles), the odds are pretty good you have a legit poster on your hands.
If, on the other hand, the dots are even just a little bit distorted, broken, or have a sort of moon shape to them, then the chances are you’re looking at a poster duplicated from the original printing – and it is most likely a phony.
Plus the skin tone is more yellow-brownish as opposed to an orange tint which is found in the forgeries.
Another point to make is that these had two versions, one without the PG rating box and one with. The one with the PG rating box tends to be more valuable as fewer were made.
For an even more comprehensive post on the Style C posters check out this link to Movie Posters Collectors Guide.
This poster was illustrated by legendary artist Tom Chantrell.
Identifying Star Wars Style D Posters
These posters were printed in 1978 after Star Wars had already been running in theaters for more than a year. They feature artwork from completely different artists and have been drawn and stylized by Drew Struzan and Charles White III.
These posters have the same perfectly round print dots that the Series C legitimate posters have, with reprints featuring a dotmatrix serial number.
Legitimate Series D posters will also have the union label that goes (slightly) into the credits portion of the poster as well.
Identifying Star Wars Birthday Posters
Maybe the most sought-after of all the Star Wars movie posters in the initial run, only about 500 of these posters were ever printed – making them incredibly valuable, incredibly rare, and (obviously) very prone to fakes and forgeries.
If you’re wondering about the legitimacy of a Star Wars birthday poster it’s a good idea to have a legitimate professional that knows their way around Star Wars memorabilia have a closer look for you.
The kind of money these posters command almost always necessitates a visit to the experts, and maybe even a second opinion just to double confirm that you’re going to be investing in the real deal before any money changes hands.
Seek Out The Experts
This online guide is resorting to the very basics which may help you identify the real deals. If you are truly wanting to get involved in Movie Poster collecting you will want to have experts help you out.
Buying anything online can be a major risk, we are talking about Ebay and Craigslist.
Also, generally speaking, major auction houses do a good job of only allowing genuine original posters into their auction lots. These will usually come with a certificate of authenticity.
A lot of movie poster collectors will seek out estate sales and garage sales. Sometimes you can find that original movie poster that’s been stored in the garage for decades. Can you imagine finding a Star Wars original? Talk about a find!
Can that happen? You bet! Back in 2012, 33 depression ere movie posters were found in an attic. The crazy thing is that they were all glued together. A man purchased the glued together posters for $30,000 at an auction and then hired another auction company to professionally separate them!
After the separation they were individually sold with the grand total coming in over $500,000!
Perhaps stopping by the next garage sale could pay off.
Are you interested in making movie posters at the professional level? Then you have found the right resource. Poster Grind is dedicated to teaching all things movie posters. From Illustration to Art Direction, we got it covered.
The cool thing is that our teachers are actual artists working within the movie poster business, not some professor that’s never stepped foot in a design agency.
Our classes are currently in production, but if you want to know when they will be released, sign up for our Newsletter! Plus the newsletter will feature information surrounding the movie poster industry, both collecting and creating.
In the mean time these articles will help you get up to speed:
- 7 Skills That You Need To Be A Movie Poster Illustrator
- The 9 Worst Mistakes Movie Poster Artists & Designers Make
- Top 11 Skills You Need To Be A Movie Poster Art Director