How to assess the price of a vintage movie poster ?


Principle of supply and demand

The value of a movie collectible document depends on supply and demand, meaning the number of posters available for sale, and the number of potential buyers.

The main criteria that influence the price of a vintage movie poster are:

  • the reputation of the movie, which directly influences the number of potential buyers
  • the rarity of the document, meaning the number of existing copies: in general, the older the poster, the fewer copies available. For example, it is estimated that the remaining number of original German posters of Metropolis (1927) does not exceed 10 copies in the world!
  • the release date of the poster (1st release or re-release at the cinema?): note that the poster corresponding to the 1st theatrical release is generally more sought after, and therefore more expensive, than the posters corresponding to the re-releases in theaters, but there are exceptions like The Raiders of the Lost Ark american one sheet (see more about 1st release and re-issues).
  • the condition of the document: an essential element of the price! Thus a poster in poor condition will be less sought after than the same poster in perfect condition.
  • the country of origin: the most purists among us prefer posters corresponding to the country of origin of the film concerned, for example the American poster for the American film Gremlins, and the Japanese poster for the Japanese film Princess Mononoke.
  • the format : some formats are more coveted than others
  • the beauty of the visual,
  • the notoriety of the artist who produced the visual...

For example, we know that original movie posters are the most wanted documents on movie collectibles market. Among them, the posters related to cult movies from the Golden Age are always the most coveted, especially the Universal first horror movies. For example the poster of the Mummy (1932) was sold in 1997 near 450.000 $ at Sotheby’s, that made it the top expensive poster for 8 years until 2005, before being dethroned by Metropolis which was sold 690 000 $.

Sci-Fi movies from the 1950’s are also coveted, as some movies from the 60’s.

Poster Prices are decreasing drastically since the 70’s, especially because of wider print run. Indeed, until 1960’s, a poster print-run was about 3000 to 5000 prints in USA. Since the 1970’s the average print run has jumped to 15.000 to 30.000 prints! The craze for collecting movie art has also started in the 1970’s; until then, movie posters were commonly destroyed after being displayed in movie theatres.

As for movies from the 1980’s, only few posters are exceeding 2000$, which is honorable. Nevertheless, their value is increasing, and they can be considered as an affordable investment.

Most of recent movie posters should not reach such prices. The visual standardization (see chapter “History of movie poster”) and wide print rune, should maintain their prices relatively low. Including the fact that they are sometimes sold directly to the public. 

However, some posters from the 2000’s, like Dark Knight, Morse or Black Swan (advance versions), are quiet expensive, sometimes reaching 300$. This could be explained by the originality of their visuals and their relatively low print run.


Method to assess the price

As you can see, the value of a movie poster depends on a large number of variables, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine, but not impossible with method.

Therefore, to estimate its value, you will first need to gather as much reliable and if possible recent information on completed sales for identical documents, and as much information on current sales as possible.

The comparison must relate to identical documents (year, country, format, state, etc.) and possible differences must be clearly identified. The condition of the document is essential: a perfectly preserved document will obviously sell for more than a badly damaged document.

Once this information has been gathered, focus on the most commonly encountered prices; the maximum and minimum prices, if they are extreme, should be ignored because they probably correspond to unusual market behavior: one-off craze or, on the contrary, a shortage of buyers at a given time.

Note that the place of sale will also affect prices: some posters may be both in high demand in France and totally ignored in England, and vice versa. Where you plan to buy your poster or put your material up for sale is therefore of critical importance.

All of this work should help you estimate the price of your document. And if all this seems too tedious, you can contact us for an expertise. NOTE: Given the number of requests we regularly have to process, we no longer do free expertise. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

Collectors, also consult our catalogue of original vintage movie posters


We hope that this page was usefull, 


Best Regards

Mauvais Genres.