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.”
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Steve McQueen Film Poster Site
Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page
Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery
Steves Disney Collection
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Movie Props
Source: Google News
DeLorean Time Machine Conversion Mod: Back to the Back to the FutureTechnabob (blog), December 18th
The shop says it works with Universal Studios' restoration team for the permanent conversion, so you can expect to get pretty much everything that's on the original movie prop cars on your DMC-12. That includes the flux bands, the aluminum rear vents...Read more
Mark Wahlberg Kept Dirk Diggler's Famous Prosthetic from 'Boogie Nights'Wall Street Journal (blog), December 12th
The Academy Award-nominated actor described the decidedly non-glamorous procedure for getting this all-important Hollywood movie prop made as having to “stand there, take off my clothes, and they basically start sculpting this thing around you. It's...Read more
'Imperial' books among first Project for Awesome perksIndianapolis Star, December 10th
Fans of "The Fault in Our Stars" now have the chance to buy the book that inspired Hazel Grace Lancaster to visit Amsterdam. "An Imperial Affliction" -- actually a replication of the movie prop read by actress Shailene Woodley in "TFIOS" -- is a perk...Read more
Mister Babadook: An oral history of 2014's most terrifying movie propThe Week Magazine, December 5th
"If it's in a word, or in a look, you can't get rid of the Babadook." That's the prophetic warning — delivered by, of all things, a children's pop-up book — in The Babadook, a low-budget Australian film that towers over every other horror movie...Read more
Movie prop “bomb” found in Oakville apartmentHamilton Spectator, November 27th
OAKVILLE Halton police sent in the bomb squad when a package resembling a bomb was found in a vacant apartment. Police were called to a Queen Mary Drive apartment building shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday after a building manager found the package ...Read more
California archaeologists uncover 90-year-old movie prop (+video)Christian Science Monitor, October 17th
Buried for more than nine decades under the sand dunes of Guadalupe, Calif., the giant plaster sphinx from "The Ten Commandments" has been rediscovered. By Laura Geggel, LiveScience Staff Writer October 17, 2014. About video ads. Hidden for more ...Read more
Back to the Future hoverboard on sale at movie prop firm's first live auctionThe Guardian, October 1st
Back to the Future hoverboard on sale at movie prop firm's first live auction. Casino Royale deck of cards, Milla Jovovich's Fifth Element costume and HR Giger chair will also go on sale in London. Hoverboard. Marty McFly's hoverboard, one of more than...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