Often unnoticed to the untrained eye, props function as the glue that holds a movie together. Whether it is a Civil War battle or a futuristic alien invasion, prop masters are charged with the task of making sure every detail on the screen appears historically accurate and realistic.
But what is a prop? It seems like a simple question, but it is not so easy. A prop is anything a character can pick up, be it a magazine, weapon, or lamp. This can include food items and, depending on production, even decals, such as those on the sides of ambulances and police cars.
A prop is not, however, the vehicle itself. It is also not the furniture that the lamp sits on or the uniform that goes with the weapon, although jewelry can be considered a prop. So while Judy Garland’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” pulled quite a prize at auction, they aren’t props. Nor is Orson Welles’ pinstriped shirt from “Citizen Kane,” but the sled called “Rosebud” owned by a young Welles in the movie would be considered a prop, and was bought at auction by Steven Spielberg in 1982 for $60,500.
When it comes to collecting props, there are two types: those that were actually used on a movie set during production, and replicas, which may even be licensed by a studio. Like autographs, it is often extremely difficult to fully authenticate a prop. Studios have even been known to sell props post-production claiming they were used on set, when the piece in question was actually a less collectible re-creation.
Getting your hands on authentic props can be difficult. In older movies, props were often discarded after the film because the studios didn’t have space to store them. In other instances, props were left in the possession of the prop master, which is why such individuals are usually the best sources of authentic props.
Acquiring props from recent movies is no easier. Because studios pay for the props in a film, they often maintain possession of them after production. In recent years, studios have started to hold on to props so they can be used in sequels, potential or planned. In other instances, studios will hire an auctioneer to sell props immediately after filming has ceased in order to recoup some of the movie’s production costs.
The prop collector also needs to keep in mind that many props are not what they appear to be on screen. For example, if a character in a movie that’s set in the 18th century is r...
For the most part, props from the most memorable movies are the ones most sought by collectors, be it a blaster from the original “Star Wars,” a pair of dice rolled by Marlon Brando in “Guys and Dolls,” or the “Witch Remover” sprayer used by the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”
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Recent News: Movie Props
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Calgary comic expo auctions valuable movie prop to benefit ailing totCalgary Sun, January 29th
Cast members from the sci-fi classic Aliens (Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn, Michael Beihn, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Mark Rolston, and Ricco Ross) sign a replica space monster egg that was part of the stage...Read more
Laxman's tryst with MP in random sketchesTimes of India, January 28th
capture the sombre atmosphere that the Jahaz Mahal of Mandu is permanently wrapped up in or the mood of festivity that pervades the whole township of Omkareshwar or the eerie magnificence of Orchha which has the look of a newly set up movie prop...Read more
How Hollywood makes its millionsTelegraph.co.uk, January 22nd
When it comes to movie prop collectors– rather than hopeful extras angling after some free money – lack of realism in a banknote can actually increase its appeal. Many banknotes are custom made for their respective films, often because the movie's plot ...Read more
As Seen on Screen: Movie locations a tourism draw for Georgia communitiesGadsden Times, January 21st
30, 2014, on the edge of Chippewa Square in Savannah, Ga., at the spot where actor Tom Hanks sat on a movie-prop park bench in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump.” State officials say movies and TV shows filmed in Georgia can bring in millions of tourism ...Read more
The Guest: Exclusive Clip and Movie Prop SweepstakesCrave Online, January 6th
Watch an informative clip about how to be a good guest and enter to win “David's” duffel bag from the film. January 6th, 2015 William Bibbiani. The Guest: How To Be A Good Guest - Exclusive. CANCEL. SEND. Play next. Retry. A handy how to guide from the ...Read more
Georgia movie locations have become must-see tourist attractionsCanada.com, January 5th
Passersby stop on the edge of Chippewa Square in Savannah, Georgia, at the spot where actor Tom Hanks sat on a movie-prop park bench in the 1994 film "Forrest Gump." State officials say movies and TV shows filmed in Georgia can bring in millions of ...Read more
Parents strike back at £900 Build The Millennium Falcon magazineDaily Mail, January 3rd
Dai Chetley, marketing director at DeAgostini UK, the firm behind the magazine, said: 'We are sure that Star Wars fans and model makers will be delighted with it. It is a full-size model of the actual movie prop used in The Empire Strikes Back. 'It...Read more
What Is The Most Expensive Movie Prop Ever?Cinema Blend, August 13th
But in the history of movie prop auctions, there's an elite few that have made quite a bit of cash on the names of the films or the actors that used them, and out of all of those items there's one that's head and shoulders above the rest when it comes...Read more