Film posters are often the first piece of movie iconography to draw us into a new world. They are symbols of a new adventure, a promise to eager film fans that something exciting is coming. Whether they are blu-tacked to bedroom walls or plastered hundreds of feet high in Leicester Square, these images have the power to enthral and entice.
The very best of these posters become emblems, the film that exist to promote emboldened by their imagery. Whether you love the minimalist symbolism of Saul Bass, or the warm, detailed glow of Drew Struzan, or more recently the master of negative space Olly Moss, these posters are works of art in their own right, the artists who create them legends in their own lifetimes.
On the 22nd of April fans around the world will have the chance to bid for their very own piece of film history, as Prop Store return to the stage with over 490 cinema posters going under the hammer. As we saw with last year’s epic movie prop auction, the audience for this event will be huge as film fans can gather online to bid for some of the most iconic pieces of movie artwork.
You can find out all about the Prop Store Cinema Poster Live Auction, including a look at the full catalogue right here.
While you pore through the catalogue and re-imagine your interior decoration we wanted to offer up a selection of our favourite posters up for auction on the 22nd of April.
Among the headline items are original posters from the archives of James Bond and Star Wars, as well as classics from Butch Cassidy to Black Swan. There’s an excellent collection courtesy of screenwriter and producer Bryan Fuller including a gorgeous Australian Halloween one-sheet from 1978, as well as many more.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the collection up for auction is the access to the treasures of the Feref archive. Feref are a venerable creative agency who have called Soho their home since 1968. We’ve worked with them over the past twelve years and their history at the heart of film advertising and promotion is unrivalled. This year they launched a Kickstarter campaign, Feref: Unseen, for an art book celebrating the best of the agency’s work over the last 50+ years. It’s well worth a look.
Having access to the original prints and elements of some of the most iconic posters in film history is something special, and throughout the Prop Store Cinema Poster live auction catalogue you’ll see a wallet-troubling amount of must-buys.
We’re going to display our favourites below, and often it is the poster’s history as much as the design or associated film that caught our eye. We were fortunate enough to have some time with Prop Store’s poster expert Mark Hochman, who can also be found at Vintage Movie Posters, to find out some of the cracking stories behind some of these much loved posters.
An instant classic from the Feref archive, this poster from the early ’90s erotic thriller craze was something of a watershed moment for Hollywood. From suburban bus-stops to Coming Soon… marquees across the world the steely eyes of Sharon Stone peered with palpable menace over the vulnerable, naked shoulders of Michael Douglas. It was a mark of intent; the female gaze looking back at an audience reared on women as either idle titillation or doomed victims.
With The Last Seduction, Disclosure and its forebear Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct was perhaps the most steadfast declaration that times were changing (remembering of course that time is cyclical, and the femme fatales of the noir era were firmly present in the shadows of these new films).
It’s an iconic design, simple in its aesthetic reversals and powered by that Stone-y stare. This poster might just be the one to hang in the bedroom.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Rick Dalton Posters
Legendary artist Renato Casaro was wrangled into action by Quentin Tarantino when the animated director wanted an authentic touch to depict the B-Movie descent of the star of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino’s famous fake brands are plentiful in the Tarantinoverse, so much so that you can well imagine that Rick Dalton (played with volcanic glee by Leonardo DiCaprio) is smoking a Red Apple cigarette in the illistration above.
Casaro was joined by artists Steven Chorney and Martin Duhovic to create the four posters for Dalton’s invented films. This set marks one of the highlights of the auction, not least because it was impossible in the ’90s for a teenager to exist in a room containing a bed without there being a Tarantino poster or two plastered on the wall.
You can imagine walking down a hallway with these four poster framed on the wall, each one looking beguilingly familiar. A recent addition to the Prop Store archives, these four posters are more than likely to be snapped up for a pretty penny.
When research is done to determine which film has had the most protrayals on movie posters, it’ll be a fair bet that the Star Wars saga will be close to the top of the list. While some of us hold close to the hope that their Revenge of the Jedi gatefold will skyrocket in price, hundreds of rendered re-imaginings have been released over time. In such a crowded arena, few stand out. Luckily for you, Prop Store has its hands on a complete set of the acclaimed Original Trilogy Mondo prints from artist Tyler Stout.
Over the last decade Stout, along with his Mondo mate Olly Moss, produced truly exceptional works of movie art on a regular basis. I can still remember the Film Twitter nail-biting that went on each time a new poster was about to be put on sale. The set up for grabs here is a limited edition Artist Proof set. It’s highly unusual to find such a selection together.
There is another very special Star Wars offering in this auction. Noted in the catalogue as the ‘Holy Grail’ of Star Wars posters, Howard Chaykin’s illustration may not immediately be recoginsable, and yet – the rarity and importance of this poster cannot be overstated.
This is the very first poster produced for Geroge Lucas’s tiny independent sci-fi film. Created in 1976, Chaykin’s took its lead from concept art from legendary and much-missed artist Ralph McQuarrie. The dynamic representation is a far cry from the sweeping nature of the saga’s subsequent posters, but I’ll wager there are few first looks as exciting as this one.
Mark Hochman told me about the amazing story behind this one.
“I love the backstory to it. The was the very, very first poster that was ever produced for Star Wars. Chaykin was one of the leading comic book illustrators, not known for his movie posters and he was given this remit by [George] Lucas. Ralph McQuarrie was already on board doing pre-production for the film, but McQuarrie wasn’t a poster artist. Lucas needed someone who could make something appealing. In ’76 he contact Chaykin to do a poster for this new film coming out called Star Wars. It was meant to be a series of posters, which is why in the bottom left corner you’ve got POSTER No. 1. That was the original intention. No-one knows why there were no more posters after this. I’d suggest that Star Wars was such a huge success that they didn’t need any more posters. There was such buzz about the film, and there was no social media.
“I love this. George Lucas and a few colleagues were selling these at what was the San Diego Comic-Con and another convention in Kanses called World Con. I think it was $1.75 they were selling them for. When people realised that he was the creator and director, they got him to sign them.
“It’s a cracking piece of artwork.”
Just look at it. This is an absolute treasure from the Feref archives, a masterpiece from an unknown artist. You could own an alternative vision of one of the most iconic posters ever made for anything ever. Instantly recognisable, utterly chilling in design and completely evocative of a film that broke new ground and terrified generations. Mark Hochman believes this to be “an alternative design for a re-release, but it’s great to see Roger Kastel image done almost in a Pop-Art Andy Warhol style.”
If your bathroom is looking a little empty, may I suggest this wonderful piece of movie history to hang – just above the bath perhaps?
One of the joys of having a global franchise spanning decades is seeing how each country and how each new age seeks to define a perennial such as James Bond. The ’80s are well served in the sci-fi action-oriented Moonraker poster above, and also in the album cover overtones of the Japanese Octopussy effort. There’s also a marvellously gaudy and utterly ridiculous poster for Diamonds are Forever (not pictured here, but available in the Prop Store Cinema Poster Auction catalogue – page 94). That’s one worth keeping an eye out for. Also – how is it possible that Bond still looks casual and cool while escaping (in a tuxedo no less) on skis? I don’t know – but the poster above for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service gives us a fair idea.
“I love the double-bill, Lot 209, for the backstory and history. It’s a moment in time. It was the first ever double-bill release for a James Bond film, when they paired Dr. No with From Russia With Love. It’s a funky, mid-60s design where all the printers used yellow from that period. There’s the red, the yellow and everything else is black and white.
“By ’65 Connery was getting a little bit disilluioned with playing James Bond. He was scared of being typecast and so just under his name where it says ‘Sean Connery as JAMES BOND’ – this is the only poster I’ve ever seen which has not been ‘sniped out’ or had the ‘as JAMES BOND’ crossed out.
“This would have been one of the very first off the printing press, literally in a few days they were sent out with a yellow snipe over the ‘as JAMES BOND’.
“For a Bond collector, this is one of those posters that is very special. I’ve not seen another one, and I’ve spoken to some serious Bond collectors and they’ve never seen one which has been ‘un-sniped’.
“It’s a cracking poster.”
This final poster is perhaps the crown jewel of Prop Store’s auction. Created by Eddie Paul, Renato Fratini and Eric Pulford, this original 1963 poster for From Russia With Love showcases the first time an artist illustrated Connery as Bond in the famous pose. There is another poster from this film up for auction (not pictured here, again available in the catalogue – page 85) which features only this pose in stark black and white.
The second James Bond film is one of the series’ best, with a poster that drew together all the classic Bond motifs in a striking design. Bond is very well represented in Prop Store’s collection, with stunning international variants such as the superlatively stylish Italian poster for You Only Live Twice (or, in the lyrical Italian translation – Si Vive Solo Due Volte) and its chaotic Japanese version.
This are hundreds of classic posters waiting for you at the auction. It is movie poster heaven for film fans looking to own an original piece of Hollywood history. You can check out the Prop Store Cinema Poster Live Auction site to find out all about how to bid, as well as a look at the full catalogue. Then check back on the 22nd of April at 12pm BST (GMT + 1) to watch live as the lots go under the virtual hammer, and be sure to make your bid on your own favourite.