Film posters make for a fantastic investment with the added benefit that, if framed correctly, they can be displayed and enjoyed rather than locked away. A compelling argument in our mind. In 2005, for example, a single Metropolis (1927) poster went for a record-breaking $690,000 rumoured by Leonardo DiCaprio.
We talked to one of the leading UK movie and film poster companies Orson & Welles for insights on the poster investment market. The co-founders of Orson & Welles are neither called Orson, or Welles but are indeed husband and wife team Robin and Rachel Yacoubian. Total film nuts they have been collecting movie posters for over 25 years,
They are driven to offer the finest film posters from the furthest reaches of the world, showcasing finely curated, design-led collections, highlighting the most creative artwork for popular titles and rare, hard-to-find classics.
Robin and Rachel liken the valuation of vintage film posters to that of diamonds ‘As with diamonds and their four C’s; carat, cut, clarity and colour, we think vintage posters have their five C’s; Condition, Classic, Country, exClusivity and Creativity. Adhere to them and your money will likely be safer than in stocks or rocks. ‘
The 5Cs of Poster Investment
Always buy film posters in the best condition that you can afford. A Near Mint/Mint poster can yield over double that of a poster in Good/Excellent condition. A poster in bad condition isn’t necessarily worthless, especially if it hits the other C’s, and can often be restored to an excellent standard.
The majority of older posters are likely to have had some restoration work done to them. As you would expect an unrestored poster in great condition will always be more valuable than one that has had substantial work done.
Prior to the 1980’s, posters were actually sent out to cinemas folded so a rolled original is a rare find. Although original poster folds are not considered a defect, if you are lucky enough to buy an original rolled these are generally more valuable to collectors non-linen backed.
The posters for films deemed as classic, cult or just plain cool will always make sound investments. You can have a poster in great condition but unless it’s for a film deemed a ‘classic’, demand for the poster will generally be lower and hence any return on investment limited.
A title with a leading actress or actor from the era, by a renowned director or award-winning lends itself to a popular film and a sought after poster.
Older cult film posters are generally more valuable, though some posters for modern Blockbusters go for £100s and £1000s. Naturally, year of release for these classics are deemed the most valuable.
Country-of-origin, where the film was actually made are generally the most sought after. The iconic Bond movies are a great example of this, with the US Dr No selling for a third of the price of a UK poster.
However, some exceptions exist; Polish and Czech posters for example are on trend at the moment with their alternative artwork, the Polish Cabaret price for example far exceeds the US country-of-origin version. Posters you could have picked up as job lots a few years ago are now selling individually in the £100s.
Like most ccollectables the scarcer the better. If a poster is very common then its value is unlikely to ever be significant, whereas if a poster is very rare then its price can soar. Naturally posters for older titles tend to be scarcer as fewer have survived over time, however ,posters produced in limited quantities, even for new films, can still be very valuable.
Popular films that had a limited cinema release, or specially commissioned limited runs such as the Boca designed Black Swan posters.
Roadshow posters for classics are also ones to watch out for, as are recalled posters and those that never made it into general circulation for any reason, Saul Bass’ Schindler’s list for example.
Creativity can trump all the above. Great artwork can really make a re-release more collectable than the original-year-of-release poster, make a Polish poster more valuable than its country-of-origin counterpart or a poster from a film from the noughties more expensive than one from the fifties.
You may have a Near Mint poster for a classic film, but if the design is poor value will be affected.
Excellent artwork is what makes posters collectable. A sound bet is to go for posters designed by famous artists such as Saul Bass, Wikor Gorka, Reynold Brown or Tom Chantrell.
The most valuable and collectible posters are often reproduced either as legitimate prints or fakes. It is always best to buy from a reputable dealer, collector or auction house to ensure you get an authentic original.
And when buying a poster for an investment, try to find one that scores highly in the above C’s, but most of all make sure you actually love it! Ensure any restoration, mounting, framing, or storing is done correctly, so that your poster looks as good in 20 years time as it does today safeguarding your investment from damage.
Inspired to invest in movie posters? Visit Orson and Welles latest movie posters for sale.