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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Drop $400 on a BTTF Mr. Fusion and Never Pay For Plutonium AgainGizmodo, September 18th
It's important to note, that the folks at Diamond Select Toys, well known for detailed movie prop replicas, may not have actually created a compact working fusion reactor. Although this unit does light up, complete with sound effects, you probably...Read more
ROAD TEST: 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 CoupeWheels.ca, September 17th
Oh yeah, I'm driving a sci-fi movie prop. Drivers hover around as a flock of sparrows might when harassing a hawk. Cellphones are out. I hear honks and see plenty of thumbs-ups. Good thing the side mirrors are effective, because vehicles are constantly ...Read more
My First Time … Watching 'Pet Sematary'Decider, September 14th
1:47: This wins the award for Best Movie Prop Ever. The Creeds just moved from Chicago to Maine into this big, new house and a cemetery for pets looms behind their house. It's spelled the way it's spelled because a bunch of kids are the ones who put...Read more
Sci-fi Concept Becomes Movie Prop reality in Less Than 2 WeeksENGINEERING.com, September 10th
What do you do when you need a highly detailed and fully functional 3D printed movie prop in a hurry? You look for experts in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, of course. The 3D printing and digital manufacturing experts at FATHOM were contacted ...Read more
William Shatner's Halloween Horror Nights debut, sort ofOrlando Business Journal (blog), September 9th
Michael Myers of the Halloween movie franchise will join the cast of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 24. The mask is based on the original movie prop, which is actually a Captain Kirk mask. Jim Carchidi: Photojournalist- Orlando Business ...Read more
Pacific Rim Prop Auction has MitesTechnabob (blog), September 5th
If you are a fan of Pacific Rim, you will want to check out this movie prop auction going on. A site called Prop Store has nearly 200 props and costumes from the film that are all being auction off and some of them are super cool. The highlight of the...Read more
Own your own Back to the Future Hoverboard thanks to Vue Entertainment ...Licensing.biz, September 5th
Hoverboard from Back to the Future, Captain Kirk's costume and Alien flamethrower all up for auction. London's Prop Store and Vue Entertainment International are to launch their first live auction featuring iconic movie props such as Marty McFly's...Read more
Infographic: The 33 Most Expensive Movie PropsPaste Magazine, September 4th
How much money are fans willing to part with for the chance to own a movie prop? Lots, it seems. Joe MacFarland, writer at the eBay Stories blog, put together this infographic featuring the 33 costliest movie props. The purchases start with the Super...Read more