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
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
L.I. Comic Con to return June 13, 14The Island Now, May 21st
Throughout the weekend attendees will have the opportunity for portfolio reviews, gaming tournaments, informative panels, the return of the movie prop gallery showing original costumes and props from classic motion pictures, a car show, an expanded art ...Read more
Jalen Rose Gaming StatusRandom Nerds, May 21st
I was extremely picky in my younger years, and while my palate has diversified as the years passed, I still refuse to fuck around with delicacies like the monster-movie prop that some refer to as “calamari.” But even my uncouth peasant tongue can...Read more
Star Wars Day Returning to Joliet Public LibraryPatch.com, May 18th
day at the Joliet Public Library as it is transformed into the 6th Annual Star Wars Day - a family friendly festival of galactic proportions complete with over 80 costumed Star Wars™ characters, games, live music, prize drawings, movie prop...Read more
How Indiana Jones Actually Changed ArchaeologyNational Geographic, May 14th
The actual Ark has never been found, but the movie prop gets star billing in the National Geographic exhibition. Photograph courtesy of Lucasfilm. Other objects—like the Sankara Stones, the Cross of Coronado, and a Chachapoyan fertility idol—were ...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
Towed 'Movie Prop' Helicopter Hits Bridge on 15 Freeway in FontanaKTLA, February 20th
by a big rig hit a bridge and ended up blocking lanes Friday morning. The military style helicopter, which was described as a “movie prop,” came to rest on the southbound side of the 15 Freeway at Duncan Canyon Road, according to a tweet from Caltrans...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