Simply put, a quad is a poster with artwork and wording to advertise a movie release in Great Britain. It was meant to advertise a film and to draw people into a theater. For the first nine decades of the film industry, quad posters had no value outside their use as a marketing tool.
Nowadays, you will find movie poster collectors trying to get their hands on these coveted pieces of commercial art. If you are new to Quad poster collecting, this is the article for you.
We are dropping the knowledge, hoping it spurs some motivation for you to get into the movie poster collecting game. Most savvy collectors will have original Quads in their collection.
Film posters came in a wide variety of sizes when movies began in the late 1800s. By 1910 poster size became more standardized around a few sizes. The sizes were dictated by the paper sizes available from paper companies.
Film companies chose from these sizes, (in inches):
- Crown: 15” wide x 20” tall
- Crown, double: 30” wide x 20” tall
- Crown, quad: 40” wide x 30” tall
- Crown, double quad: 60” wide x 40” tall
The film industry eventually coalesced around the crown, quad size in landscape orientation; hence, the label “quad film poster.”
A horizontal landscape movie poster is strange at first as most of the posters we are accustomed to seeing nowadays are in a vertical portrait format. If you are curious about the different types of movie posters, then this viral article will explain them:
Elements of a Quad Poster
Quad posters from all eras include key information to draw in customers. The name of the film and promotional wording has always been included. As time has passed, key actors, directors, producers, studios, and other information have been included.
Side note: People creating poster artwork for movie studios are making “key art.” Hollywood even has a yearly award show dedicated to awarding agencies prizes for their works of poster art and entertainment marketing. It is called “The Key Art Awards by Clio.”
Prominence was given to key messaging information that would drive business. The title and actors’ names were key to enticing moviegoers into the theater house.
The art of quad posters evolved, as well. In the early years, artists such as painters and illustrators provided the artwork. Whereas in contemporary times, manipulated photography is used the most. Thanks to Photoshop. Of course, today’s movie posters use traditional painting and illustration; it’s just not as much.
Let’s go way back and see how they used to do it and also take a look at a contemporary example of a movie released in 2017.
The quad for “Nina’s Evening Prayer” (1912) is a painting of a father putting his daughter to bed. There is no other artwork. The written word consists of only the movie title and a catchphrase.
The “Pinky” (1950) quad displays the painting of the two star’s faces in opposite corners superimposed on an abstract background. The film title is written diagonally across the space between their faces in large print.
Notice how the other information is included in descending size based on importance, known as hierarchy.
Since the 1980s, film companies have used photography for part or all of the artwork.
The quad for “Dunkirk” (2017) is several photographs blended into each other with the film title across the poster’s width. There is no original artwork. It was done with Photoshop.
Until the 1980s, film posters were not considered an art form, and there were few collectors. However, that all changed on December 11, 1990. The first auction featuring only film posters was held.
The auction sold 271 posters for a total of $935,000. The average poster sold for $3,450. In 2005, a poster for Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic film, “Metropolis,” sold for $690,000!
Quad collectors approach value similarly to all collectors. The rarity of the piece increases its value. If it’s in poor condition, it’ll fetch a lower price.
Some collectors are fans of a particular artist or see the significance of the quad to art history. Value is added if the movie was a blockbuster. Likewise, the value can increase if the movie is a cult favorite or obscure work.
Iconic artists with a distinct style are favored over the more run-of-the-mill artists.
An artist known for his film poster work is Batiste Madalena. He was a 22-year-old Italian immigrant and art student in Rochester, New York when George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, hired him to produce posters for the new Eastman theater.
Mr. Madalena produced close to 1,400 posters from 1924 to 1928. These are among the rarest and most valuable posters.
In 2011, 33 posters were found in the attic of a house in Berwick, Pennsylvania. They were auctioned off in March 2012 for $502,000.
But if you find some quads in your attic, how do you know if they’re the real deal?
What to look for
Let’s start with the criteria. You want a quad that was produced for the film studio for distribution to theaters at the time of the film’s release.
What you don’t want
You don’t want a reprint that the studio authorized after the film was in theaters. You don’t want a reproduction from a digital image. You don’t want a commercial poster, the ones you see all over malls and bus stops.
Go to the pros
So how do you tell the difference? You go to an authentication service. Movie Poster Collectors Guide and CineMasterpieces offer authentication services. You can contact either of them on the internet and arrange for them to examine your prospective purchase.
They have a catalog of quads and posters that they can carefully compare with yours. By looking closely at details, they can determine if yours is a copy, reproduction, or outright forgery. If they give you the thumbs up, you should be good to go.
Another way to tell a fake is to tell your prospective seller you want authentication by an outside source. If he balks, walk away from the deal.
Whether you have a passion for a particular movie or look at it as an investment, collecting quads can be extremely rewarding. Some people even comb Craiglist ads or drop in on Estate Sales looking for that rare winner stored in the basement or attic for the past 50 years.
Just make sure you get the real deal and happy hunting!
Make you own poster?
Our website and YouTube channel are dedicated to offering tutorials on poster creation and collecting. In fact, we are in the process of creating an online class for movie poster design and illustration.
If this is something you would be interested in, we highly advise you to sign up for our newsletter, as you will be notified when these classes are available.
The cool thing is that our classes are taught by actual designers and art directors in the movie poster industry, not some professor who has never worked within Hollywood.
To get you started here are a few articles worthy of a read: