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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Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson Tour 'Hunger Games' Exhibit in NYCEntertainment Tonight, June 30th
"There's the bow that I hit myself so hard in the chin with that I flew backwards," Jennifer told ET at The Hunger Games Exhibition at Discovery Times Square when she spotted the familiar movie prop. The exhibit includes costumes, props, photography...Read more
Feig Breaks Out 'Ghostbusters' Proton PacksComic Book Resources, June 30th
Filming for the female-led reboot is already underway, so this is presumably the actual movie prop and not a concept piece. Interestingly enough, despite having been created in an era filled with Apple-inspired electronics, the pack actually looks...Read more
Woman Uses Movie Prop Money at Goodwill StoreWHKY, June 29th
The Hickory Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying a woman who attempted to pass fraudulent currency at the Goodwill retail store, 1877 North Center Street in Hickory. The incident occurred on June 22. The woman used money ...Read more
Coin is most practical electronic credit card yetCBS News, June 29th
The button is flush with the card's surface, making the whole contraption look like some sort of movie prop or pre-production prototype. Nothing this thin, this seemingly two dimensional, could possibly be host to a display, electronics, and battery...Read more
Final Destination? Huge Blade Cuts Into Chinese Driver's Pickup On HighwayCarscoops (blog), June 25th
Looking at this giant saw blade damaged JMC pickup, you'd think it was some sort of movie prop, but it isn't. It's the result of direct physical contact and actually a pretty awesome sight. We're obviously happy that the driver is okay and all that...Read more
Jesus People Reunion Gives Intimate Look at 'Old Music Pioneers' and Their ...Christian Post, June 25th
What I want to see is the younger receiving from the elders. How can we help to facilitate a bridge of mentoring between generations? If there is no bridge, the church may resemble a movie prop — beautiful on the outside but nothing of true Spirit...Read more
Your comments: Jersey City Bloods busted for guns in YouTube video, cops sayNJ.com, June 24th
The story buzzed on NJ.com with readers debating whether or not there was enough evidence to arrest the men that appeared in the video. Here are some of your comments: tomatocans. Those guns look like movie prop replicas, smh come on now. Go Away ...Read more
'Jurassic World' shows just how weird product placement has becomeWashington Post (blog), June 12th
A Jurassic World visitor's pamphlet used as a movie prop is loaded with logos for FedEx Office, Coke, Starbucks and Samsung -- the latter of which has its logo on every phone, tablet and TV, as well as the park's "Samsung Innovation Center." The...Read more