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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'The Goldbergs' Doing 'Short Circuit' and 'Risky Business' Episodes This Season/FILM, August 4th
It's not the actual Johnny Five prop from the Short Circuit movies, though. “They never made the toy, so some fan built one,” Goldberg said after the panel. “The actual movie prop doesn't exist apparently. It's in storage somewhere, and I also thought...Read more
Lenny Kravitz Rips Pants, Exposes HimselfRadio.com Music and Entertainment News, August 4th
During a performance at Gröna Lund, Stockholm's biggest theme park, the 51 year old rocker knelt down to far, causing his leather pants to rip in half right in the crotch, as if a they were a movie prop designed for a comedy. Sadly there were no movie...Read more
Baby, the rain must fall and fallTampa Bay Newspapers, August 4th
Lately here in Pinellas County it's been hard not to think about rain. When each day brings a quart of cold, heaven-sent water dripping down your neck as you go out to your mailbox, you tend to meditate about the meaning of rain and how it relates to life...Read more
Paint It Black: The Not-So-Humble Hearse Gets Its Day in the SunCar and Driver (blog), August 3rd
Since the vehicle's role is to carry a body in a casket to the cemetery, leading a procession of motorized mourners, the hearse seems destined to join the telephone booth and the cabinet-size radio as a movie prop to signify an era in time. The...Read more
Star Wars at Disney Hollywood Studios by 2016 is a strong possibilityOrlando Weekly (blog), August 3rd
With what seems to be half of the park closing at Disney's Hollywood Studios the rumors of things opening anytime soon seem to be rare. However, one rumor that keeps popping up is a Star Wars preview center taking residence in the former The Magic of ...Read more
Fat Boy A Harley best-seller andHollywood favorite for 25 yearsSouth Bend Tribune, August 3rd
Far more than a movie prop, the Fat Boy has held its own in a competitive motorcycle market where bikes are pulled from product lineups when sales slow or they've lost their original luster. Introduced in 1990, it was designed by Willie G. Davidson...Read more
5th annual movie prop party in Toronto next weekendblogTO (blog), July 30th
prop party Movie lovers, prop makers and collectors will unite at the fifth annual Toronto Prop Party, happening on August 8 at the Montecassino Hotel near Downsview Park. What began as an intimate event for hobbyists has grown into a public party...Read more
How High Def Is Changing Your Brain—and Driving the Prop Master CrazyBloomberg, July 20th
The human eye needs to see images projected at 18 to 26 frames per second in order to register film or video as continuous motion. That's our built-in refresh rate—below that, the illusion of motion breaks back into a series of individual images...Read more