Vintage movie posters are highly collectible, especially those for films released before the 1940s. Few of these early posters survived because theater owners were obliged to send them along to the next theater. A smaller variant of the poster, the lobby card (or window card), is more widely available because theaters were allowed to add their names to the cards and keep them.

Beginning in the 1940s, theaters were able to buy additional copies of the larger sized posters, known as one-sheets, and keep those, too. These later posters are generally marked with the year and edition number.

Movie posters were originally produced purely as advertising, so even the major studios rarely saved posters from their films. Thus, movie posters from the 1920s or earlier are almost nonexistent today. It wasn’t until the release of Star Wars in 1977 that a strong interest in owning original movie posters became widespread.

The movie posters most sought by collectors tend to be from science-fiction films, followed closely by those from horror flicks. Sci-fi posters from the 1950s are especially in demand (The War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still), and the most popular era for horror posters tends to be the 1930s (Frankenstein, Dracula).

Posters for genre movies such as film noir, independent films, and B-movies are also especially desirable. In some cases, these posters are more collectible than ones with star-studded casts because the artwork can take center stage. That said, there are exceptions to every rule—the original 1941 Bill Gold poster for Casablanca is not only graphically compelling, it features Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman at its center.

Other categories of vintage movie posters include musicals (An American in Paris, Singin’ In the Rain), Bollywood (Pyaasa, Shree 420), the Beatles (A Hard Day’s Night, Yellow Submarine), James Bond (Dr. No, Goldfinger), and French New Wave (Jules et Jim, Breathless).

Most collectors seek vintage movie posters because of their passion for a particular actor, director, or film, but some collectors like to acquire posters based on the poster’s d...

As for Reynold Brown, his posters for such forgettable films as Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Love-Slaves of the Amazons were far better than the movies they advertised. On the other hand, sometimes the stars aligned, as was the case in Brown’s posters for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Ben-Hur.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

If you're a Steve McQueen fan, this site can't be beat. Roger Harris has put together a definitive collection of Mc… [read review or visit site]

Gallery Of Surf Classics

Gallery Of Surf Classics

Maynard Eshelman's gallery of over 250 classic surf movie posters and lobby cards from the 1960s. The highlight of … [read review or visit site]

London Transport Museum Posters

London Transport Museum Posters

A must-see collection of 5,000 vivid, colorful British posters from the early 1900s onward. Browse by artist (over … [read review or visit site]

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

If you're the type who likes watching the titles and credits at the beginning of movies, you'll love this site. Ste… [read review or visit site]

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]

USSR Posters

USSR Posters

Ben Perry's Flickr photoset showcasing almost 1500 Soviet propaganda, advertising, theatre and movie posters from 1… [read review or visit site]

Cinema Treasures

Cinema Treasures

This user-contributed database of classic movie theaters currently lists over 17,000 theaters worldwide. Browse by … [read review or visit site]

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Dave Mackey's filmography and title card gallery for 35 years of Warner Bros. cartoons. Browsable by year or alphab… [read review or visit site]

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library's impressive Digital Gallery offers free access to over 500,000 historical images inclu… [read review or visit site]

Steves Disney Collection

Steves Disney Collection

Steve Lee’s large collection of original Disney art: pencil drawings from animated features produced during W… [read review or visit site]

The American Memory Project

The American Memory Project

This amazing Library of Congress site includes about a hundred photo and document collections (see complete list) o… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1980 Star Wars Original 1-sheet Folded Movie Poster Empire Strikes Back Style B1977 Star Wars Original Movie 1-sheet Folded Movie Poster Style-a #77/211982 Star Wars Rare Revenge Of The Jedi One Sheet Movie Poster 27 By 41 InchesMondo Poster Olly Moss Jungle Book Disney1981 Star Wars Empire Strikes Back One Sheet Movie Poster Beautiful1977 Star Wars Style D Movie Theatre Poster Unfolded BeautifulAnatomy Of A Murder 1959 Original Poster Saul Bass ArtRare Vintage 1954 Konstanty Sopocko Czech Fine Art Modernist Film Poster PolishStar Wars: Episode Iv- A New Hope-g.lucas-sci Fi-os Int‘l Style C (27x41 Inch)1980 Star Wars Original 1-sheet Folded Movie Poster 2- Week Re-release R8100771981 Star Wars Original 1-sheet Folded Poster Empire Strikes Back #r810129Original 1935 Bing Crosby W.c. Fields Movie Poster MississippiGlen Or Glenda, Original 1953 Movie Poster -transvestite / Bela Lugosi / Ed WoodIt! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) Original One Sheet PosterReturn Of The Jedi-sci Fi-star Wars-sci-fi-h.ford-british Quad (40x30 Inch)It Came From Outer Space Original Color Title Card 1953/framed Jack ArnoldCatherine Bach Original 1979 Sexy Poster 22 X 32 Dukes Of Hazzard Large French Celles Qu'on N'a Pas Eues Controversial Film Poster Risqué AfficheX The Man With The X- Ray Eyes One Sheet Poster 1963 Linen Backed Roger Corman3 Elvis Presley Movie Posters. Wild In The Country, Spinout And Harum Scarum.Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell-horror-t.fisher-hammer-bq (40x30 Inch)Sealed In Box Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Plastic 3d Promo Poster Video 1986Blacula One Sheet Movie Poster William Marshall Blaxploitation Horror 1972Night Of The Living Dead-uk 1968 Original Skull Movie Poster-(very Rare/htf)10. Marilyn Monroe The Seven Year Itch Exhibitors Campaign Book Vtg PressbookJaws Sdcc 2015 Mondo Limited (375) Print Poster Sold OutVery Rare "cult Of The Cobra " Classic Sci-fi Insert Movie Poster.great Graphics1950 Movie Poster Son Of Hijo De Tarzan Art Deco Argentina Film Spanish LanguageBlonde Bait One Sheet Movie Poster Beverly Michaels Jim Davis Bad Girl 19561987 Star Wars 10th Anniversary Chrome One Sheet Movie Poster MintOriginal 1972 'the Godfather' Movie Poster 41"x78" 3 Sheet Foreign Pacino BrandoVintage German Language Movie Poster Laurel & Hardy Flying Deuces Dick Und DoofThe Giant Behemoth Italian 2 - Foglio Movie Poster & Other Photobusta 1960sElvira, Mistress Of The Dark Thriller Video Rude Awakening Dead Of Night PosterCondemned To Devils Island One Sheet Movie Poster Ronald Colman Drama R-1946Jurassic World 5ft Subway Movie Poster 2015A Game Of Death (1945) Original One Sheet Linen Backed Poster1993 Star Wars Return Of The Jedi 10th Anniversary One Sheet Movie PosterMan In The Dark One Sheet Movie Poster Edmond O'brien Audrey Totter 1953Zombie Holocaust Autographed One Sheet Movie Poster Aka Dr. Butcher Md HorrorRare Original 1958 Hot Rod Gang Movie Poster 58/283 - 36" X 14"Spectre 007 Original Movie Ds One Sheet Poster 27x40 Intl Advance James BondThe Curse Of The Werewolf-original'61 Horror Movie Daybill-terrence Fisher MovieFerris Bueller’s Day Off-j.hughes-m.broderick-teen Rebellion-italian 2sh (39x55)"the Evil Dead" Sam Raimi Bruce Campbell Original Fantasy Horror Classic PosterBatman Begins & The Dark Knight Rises Advance Original 2 - Sided Movie PosterThe Maze 1953 Original Insert Poster. William Cameron Menzies/richard CarlsonEvensong Original British Movie Poster 1934 Evelyn Laye Fritz Kortner Version 21987 Star Wars 10th Anniversary Limited Edition #1713 Of 3000 One Sheet PosterBeyond The Purple Hills Insert Movie Poster & Title Lobby Card Gene Autry 1950The Bad News Bears One Sheet Movie Poster Walter Matthau Vic Morrow Sports 1976Star Wars The Force Awakens Teaser Poster 27" X 40"Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Advance Original 27 X 41 Folded Movie Poster 1980At The Earth's Core Japanese B2 Movie Poster Doug Mcclure Peter Cushing 1976Hunger Games Mockingjay 2 Cast Signed Poster 2015 Sdcc Comic Con Dream Wife (1953) Cary Grant * Deborah Kerr * Original 14x36 Insert PosterAsylum, The Sender, & The Visitor One Sheet Movie Posters Horror 1970s/1982"the Terminator" Arnold Schwarzenegger James Cameron Movie Series Classic PosterInside Out / Ant-man Vinyl Movie Banner 2015 5''w X 8'h Vintage Modernist Eastern Block Polish Film Poster German Language Surreal Rare