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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Movie review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' has the right mix of special effects ...Belleville News Democrat, July 31st
A jaunty space adventure, "Guardians of the Galaxy" pokes fun at the sci-fi genre in the confines of a traditional saving-the- universe framework. With unconventional St. Louisan James Gunn directing and co-writing, his trademark tongue-in-cheek...Read more
'Lord of the Rings' movie memorabilia from Sir Christopher Lee's private ...New York Daily News, July 31st
It doesn't take a major quest to recover Saruman's staff from "The Lord of the Rings" films — but it will cost a would-be adventurer at least $100,000. Actor Sir Christopher Lee, who played the evil wizard in the trilogy, put up the magical movie prop...Read more
The Business Behind Fake Hollywood MoneyGizmodo, July 30th
In late 2000, the producers and crew for action flick Rush Hour 2 gathered at the now-defunct Desert Inn in Las Vegas and prepared to blow up a casino. The scene, which pitted policemen and Secret Service agents against a counterfeiter attempting to ...Read more
Thomas C. Senesac dies; owned prop warehouse that supplied 80 movies,Chicago Sun-Times, July 23rd
That's because Mr. Senesac owned Acme Prop Rental, a supplier to more than 80 movies and many TV shows. “When we were watching 'While You Were Sleeping,' there's my grandmother and grandfather's secretary [desk],” said Hoagland, Mr. Senesac's ...Read more
Jurassic World Movie Spoilers: Clues from “Leaked” Movie Prop Gives Us a ...Hallels, July 21st
A "Welcome to Jurassic World" brochure with an Isla Nublar map which has been uploaded to Reddit and is now making the Internet rounds, if proven an authentic prop for the highly anticipated movie, could give clues on what to expect from the franchise...Read more
Marty McFly's hoverboard up for sale at £1million movie memorabilia auctionMetro, July 9th
Now the hoverboard used by Marty McFly in the 1989 blockbuster Back To The Future II could be yours – if you can spare about £15,000. The futuristic movie prop is one of dozens of items of film memorabilia up for grabs at a £1million sale. But before...Read more
ScreenUsed Summer 2014 Movie Prop AuctionduPont REGISTRY (blog), July 9th
ScreenUsed is in the business of selling props and wardrobes that have been used onscreen in movies or television shows. The hobby of collecting these props and wardrobe pieces has increased exponentially in popularity over the past years, and ...Read more
Star Trek Movie Prop AuctionTrek Today, July 7th
An auction by The Original Memorabilia Company this week will be of interest to fans of the original series. The auction features pieces from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Items in the auction will...Read more