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Iconic film posters on auction


PIECE OF ART: According to experts, posters appeal not just to collectors of the film but also to collectors of the artist and graphic designer’s work
PIECE OF ART: According to experts, posters appeal not just to collectors of the film but also to collectors of the artist and graphic designer’s work

MOVIE’S POPULARITY INFLUENCES VALUE OF ARTWORK, SAYS CONSULTANT

by AMIT ROY

AN AUCTION house, which has organised a sale of film posters from famous Hollywood movies over many decades, has told Eastern Eye it would happily consider doing the same for Bollywood as well.

Mark Hochman, a specialist poster consultant with Hertfordshire-based Store Props, said: “If they are right for us, then I am pretty sure we would do an auction which featured some Bollywood posters. I do know it’s a big market. It’s sourcing them in this country to actually put them in auction that is the real problem. We are largely reliant on people approaching us. If you do know of anybody they should get in touch – we would be more than happy to have a discussion with them.”

Prop Store, based in Greathouse Farm, Chenies, Rickmansworth, organised a big and successful sale of Bond posters last year. It is next offering 340 “original cinema posters” from some 200 movies in an online auction on April 23.

Posters are from such movies as Jaws, ET, High Society, The Graduate, Casablanca, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, Midnight Cowboy, Apocalypse Now, Star Wars and You Only Live Twice.

Price estimates vary from £50 to several thousands. Other films include Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Get Carter, Planet of the Apes and Goldfinger.

Explaining what “original” meant, Hochman said: “‘Original’ means these were originally printed for use in cinemas, whether it is American cinema, Japanese cinema, British cinema, or Indian cinema. These were the original posters produced at the time of the film’s release. Some were produced later for the film’s rerelease.”

Asked about how a poster was valued, he replied: “A lot of the time, it is the popularity of the film and, also, the reputation that the film has built up over the years. If you go back to Vertigo, that ticks several boxes.

“It is Alfred Hitchcock, it is one of his best-known films, but the design is by a really, really talented artist called Saul Bass. He was a graphic designer who created several designs for Hitchcock’s films. He is also very, very collectible in his own right as an artist and the imagery has gone down to be iconic – a man falling down the stairs. It is sometimes the imagery that makes a poster valuable as well, not just the film.”

He went on: “Another example of that would be the Polish Midnight Cowboy – it is done by Waldemar Swierzy. It is not only a great film – the first X certificate film to win an Oscar – but it is the design of that Polish poster which makes it so collectible. Very, very striking.

“That appeals not just to collectors of the film but also to collectors of the artist and interior designers. That is the sort of poster that provides a showcase in a room or in a home cinema. It’s not just a poster but is also a piece of art.”

He said: “Casablanca is a Belgian poster and in terms of Casablanca posters this is very affordable. Casablanca posters from America – the country of origin posters – sell for between $50,000 (£38,162) and $100,000. The estimate on the Belgian equivalent is £1,200 to £1,800 and is from 1947 which was the first release in Belgium. Casablanca was originally released during the war in 1942 – it was not released in a lot of countries until after the war.

“It was done by an unknown house artist in Belgium. It has beautiful colours of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman – it is unusual for a Casablanca poster to be done in such bright colours. Everything comes with a Prop Store certificate of authenticity. We stand by everything we sell.”

Hochman explained why poster artists were phased out: “Movie posters which have been photoshopped started in the mid-nineties when computers started out and artists were phased out. A lot of it is to do with the film’s budget. During the 1960s,1970s and 1980s, for film poster artists it was a career. Some of these people were earning an awful lot of money. Studios and promoters were looking at ways of cutting the cost. There are not many standout posters from the nineties up until the present day. There are a few but not many.”

Several posters come from the collection of the Star Wars producer, Howard Kazanjian. “He was one of Hollywood’s leading producers and a friend of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The ET poster is one of only a handful – that particular poster was given to Howard by Steven Spielberg. There are fewer than a hundred in existence. They were commissioned by Spielberg and given personally to his friends and the top people who worked on his films.”

Other posters have been provided by producer and special effects man Richard Edlund, “one of Hollywood’s leading filmmakers”.

As for Bond posters, “they are popular because of the franchise and the publicity surrounding the new Bond film (No Time to Die) coming out in November. Bond at the moment is very, very hot.”