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10 valuable movie posters you just might own


In the early days of cinema and even in the days before the meteoric rise of the internet and social media, many cinema productions relied on eye-catching advertising material, in the form of the movie poster, to draw a paying audience into the cinema. There’s no escaping that some of the early film posters were incredible pieces of painted artwork, with later posters from the 1960s onwards phasing paintings out and replacing them with photography and graphic art. However, it isn’t just those posters from the golden age of Hollywood that command the money and here we will also look at the collectability of more contemporary pieces from the last thirty years.

The first poster is attributed to a Parisian lithographer and artist, Jules Cheret, who created it in 1890 for a short film, ‘Projections Artistiques’. The poster depicted a girl holding a poster featuring the times of the shows. The first poster designed to promote an individual film, however, was for L’arroseur arosé (The waterer watered), a silent black and white from 1895, which illustrated an actual scene from the film.

Grounded firmly in the world of collectable ephemera (items never intended to be kept or preserved), the early movie poster  was simply loaned to the cinema who then passed it along to the next one due to show that particular feature. Understandably then, early posters have become highly sought after by collectors and command high prices if they come to auction.

The four most valuable film posters in recent years are:

1 Metropolis (1927)

Only four copies of this iconic, art nouveau styled poster are believed still to be in existence, three of which are owned by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Library Museum of Austria. In 2005, when the fourth came on to the market, it achieved $690,000. Seven years later, the poster was included in a bankruptcy auction lot which realised in excess of $1m!

2 Dracula (1931)

Similarly to the Metropolis poster, perhaps because of their age, only three copies of the Bela Lugosi classic film poster still exist. Nicholas Cage, the actor, auctioned his copy in 2012 with a final hammer price of $310,000 but by 2017, another copy was sold by an auction house in Texas for over half a million dollars.

3 Casablanca (1946)

This one of a kind, four sheet poster (measuring 4’6”x6’6”) for the Bogart classic fetched almost half a million dollars at auction in 2017, despite the presence of drawing pin holes. Featuring realist-style artwork, this is generally considered to be the finest piece of advertising to have been released for the film.

4 The Mummy (1932)

In 1997, one of three known copies of the poster for this Karloff classic was sold for $435,000, with one of the other two at the time being owned by Kirk Hammett, horror movie buff and guitarist for Metallica. Fast forward to 2018 and Sotheby’s, New York were expecting it to reach between one and one and a half million dollars, with an opening bid set at $950,000. 

With it being acknowledged that so few of the above still exist, it is unlikely that anyone will unearth a lost copy anytime soon, but fear not as there is value to be found in posters from much more contemporary features, some of which may even be in the attic!


With 7 films released throughout the decade, the 1960s were dominated by the James Bond franchise and the 1963 From Russia With Love is a classic of the genre. The British ‘quad’ poster (30”x40”) is highly sought after by collectors and has been known to achieve over £10,000.


The 70s saw the rise in popularity of films such as Star Wars and Star Trek as well as Spielberg’s terrifying ‘Jaws’. Featuring the now iconic image of a shark coming up through the ocean below a swimmer, this memorable poster can command £2000 and above, in mint condition.


Episode VI of the Star Wars films was released in 1983 as Return of the Jedi, but prior to that it had been briefly titled Revenge of the Jedi, which George Lucas later decided was too aggressive for a peaceful Jedi. However, before the name change, the studio printed a limited run of 9,000 for cinemas. These were recalled but there were an additional almost 7,000 copies made for the film’s fan club, which were printed with the film’s release date, May 25th 1983. The posters with the release date can attract prices up to £1500 with the cinema posters realising a little more.  


Ahead of its release in 1994, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction had a teaser poster sent to cinemas. Almost identical to the final release poster, featuring lead actor Uma Thurman smoking a cigarette on a bed, this poster featured the branding on the packet of cigarettes. The tobacco threatened litigation for use of its product without permission so the posters were withdrawn and recalled. Inevitably, some escaped the recall and today can achieve between £1500 and £2000.

The novice collector should not be disheartened by these prices however, as there are many relatively contemporary posters in circulation that are within reach of the beginner, but they should  be aware of the differences in type of film poster. Posters intended for display in the cinema and which were intended as advertising are collectable. Posters intended for retail sale to the public only, are not collectable. Of course, as with any collectable ephemera, condition is key but even examples in ‘decent’ condition can achieve £60. Watch out too for original posters for modern classics like Pixar’s Toy Story and Harry Potter or modern cult films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (£150) and The Lost Boys (£300). These are set to rise in value; as many film studios are turning more and more to online promotion and cinemas are using poster frames with video clips, the age of the film poster may be on the wane, which could push up prices of those still in circulation.

Buying from a reputable antiques centre like Hemswell, from respected and experienced dealers, will give you the reassurance that you are investing in a genuine piece. As a Hemswell dealer, with rented space in one of our buildings, not only can you list your items on our website, but you can also be confident of a guaranteed footfall, with support from our dedicated sales team to sell your items. 

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