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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How does movie money end up getting passed in Alabama?AL.com, May 28th
Here's an interesting priceonomics story from last year about the business of movie prop money. Movie insiders say if the Secret Service cracked down on prop companies, it would force movie producers to go toward illegal sources of funny money. Still...Read more
Gremlins Puppets & Men In Black Creatures – Rick Baker's Movie Prop CollectionClevver, May 27th
If you're looking for the best movie news and information about new movies, you've come to the right place. Get the best movie news and new movies info first. Watch the latest new movie trailers and previews. See movie clips and get info about the...Read more
Are Judy Garland's Stolen Ruby Slippers Shimmering in Mine Pit? Witness ...PR Newswire (press release), May 26th
The top echelons of Hollywood "movie-prop" collectors consider the carriage to be a "Holy Grail" piece, "this is the one and only original used for the film," Miner explained. "This carriage can also be seen in more than 200 classic Hollywood films...Read more
Florida's floating bait shopWink News, May 26th
There's more than bait at Jasper's though, whether you need boat oil, batteries or just a chicken sandwich, they've got you covered. Even cold ice cream and every nautical knick-knack you can think of. The house was originally used as movie prop in...Read more
This 'Star Trek' Enterprise home office would make Scotty jealousCNET, May 26th
The "Super-Fan Builds" webseries showcases the impressive skills of movie prop designers, led by film industry veteran Tim Baker. With his crew of craftspeople, Baker builds amazing tributes to TV shows, movies and video games for superfans nominated...Read more
Traveller's diary: Lahiceuronews, May 25th
The huge bellows used to stoke the fire, probably dating back to the 19th century, he said, looked like a fantasy movie prop. Lost in the middle of the mountains, this isolation is what gives Lahic its charm. Here, we are only around 200 kilometres...Read more
Looking for Zoltar from 'Big' on Playland's boardwalkThe Journal News | LoHud.com, May 22nd
The machine that the county bought from Stanton's firm sits inside the amusement park, in a hut near the Dragon Coaster. It bears little resemblance to the movie prop — the actual machine has a yellow costume, crystal ball, less intricate cabinet and...Read more
Iron Man's car from first movie to be displayed at Hall of Heroes Super Hero ...The Elkhart Truth, May 7th
The movie prop, which is valued at $75,000, was donated to the museum, though owner Allen Stewart said the donor did not wish to be identified yet. The automobile will make its debut to the public during Avengers Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday...Read more