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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Cedar Rapids Man Making Props for Major Motion PicturesKCRG, August 19th
CEDAR RAPIDS — Making movie props for an upcoming Steven Spielberg film, that's what one Cedar Rapids engineer has been doing in his spare time the last few weeks. Seventy-six-year-old Francis Lebeda has been working on turning a U.S. nickel into ...Read more
Allman Film Company Cited by OSHA in Georgia Train CrashClaimsJournal.com, August 18th
Investigators say fellow crew members were injured either by the train itself or flying shrapnel from a bed that had been placed across the tracks as a movie prop. “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains...Read more
Orange Is the New Weeds: The Adventures of Jenji Kohan Across the 8th ...Daily Beast, August 18th
Both products were created by the entertainment property company Independent Studio Services, one of the largest movie prop suppliers in the country. Their fake brands are key signifiers of property crossovers. Wrap your mind around that. Alex Vause as ...Read more
'Midnight Rider' filmmakers cited with workplace safety violations in train ...New York Daily News, August 15th
SAVANNAH, Ga. — A production company formed to make a biographical film about singer Gregg Allman was cited by federal regulators Thursday for workplace safety violations stemming from a train crash in rural Georgia that killed a camera assistant and ...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
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
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