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]

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]

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]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage 1949 Devil's Sleep Sexy Pin Up Bad Girls Drugs Exploitation Film PosterDawn Of The Dead - Uk Quad Poster 1978- Halloween Horror AuctionJaws * Original Vintage Movie Poster 1975 Us 1sh 27x41 Halloween HorrorOne Million Years B.c / She - Uk Quad 1966 - Raquel Welch Hammer Horror Tyler Stout Mondo Star Wars Trilogy Posters (set Of 3)Pacific Vibrations 1970 - 40 X 60 Movie Poster - Rick Griffin - John SeversonThe Shining - Uk Quad Poster 1980 - Halloween Horror AuctionDracula Has Risen From The Grave - Uk Quad 1968 - Christopher Lee Hammer Horror Fury Ds Movie Poster Cast Signed Premiere Autograph Brad Pitt Shia Labeouf Batman Returns, 3 Original Cinema Door Panel Posters Rare Original 1992 Dc ComicThe Searchers Insert Movie Poster John Wayne & Jeffrey Hunter 1956 Western There Goes My Girl One Sheet Movie Poster On Linen Gene Raymond Ann Sothern 19376 Vintage 1960's-80's Funhouse Scanners Demon Seed Horror 1sh Movie PostersHalloween * 1978 Original Movie Poster 1sh Michael Myers Mask Vintage Near MintThe Brood / Dawn Of The Dead- Uk Quad Poster 1979 - Halloween Horror Auction6 Vintage 1970's-80's Jaws Slithis Friday The 13th Horror 1sh Movie PostersDracula 1992 Movie Keanu Reeves Gary Oldman Winona Ryder Autographed Poster6 Vintage 1960's-80's Scanners Prophecy Road Games Horror 1sh Movie PostersThe Towering Inferno British Quad Movie Poster Steve Mcqueen & Paul Newman 1974Star Wars German A0 Movie Poster Mark Hamill & Harrison Ford 1977 George LucasOriginal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1-sheet Movie Poster 40x27 1990 ActionNight Of The Living Dead 1968 Original Poster George Romero In Time 4 Halloween6 Vintage 1960's-80's Squirm Rachel, Rachel Berserk Horror 1sh Movie PostersRocky 3 - Uk Quad Poster 1982 - Sylvester Stallone Excellent Rolled Condition Star Wars 1978 Cascade Cheer Rare Ken Goldammer Promotional PosterMad Max - Us 1 Sheet Original Movie Poster - One SheetThe Burning - Uk Quad Poster 1981 - Halloween Horror Auction6 Vintage 1970's-80's Dark Places Graduation Day Terror Horror 1sh Movie PostersNight Of The Demons Scream Factory Poster Horror Shout Linnea Quigley Angela 80sThe Lost Patrol One Sheet Movie Poster Victor Mclaglen & Boris Karloff R-1949My Favorite Wife First Post-war Release Belgian Movie Poster Cary Grant 1940sHalloween Ii 2 * 1981 Original Movie Poster 1sh Michael Myers Mask Pumpkin Skull4 Vtg 1970's Truck Turner Black Mama White Mama Blaxploitation 1sh Movie PostersFury - Final - Original Movie Theater Poster - 27x40 Double-sidedSuper Fly One Sheet Movie Poster Ron O'neal & Sheila Frazier 1972This Land Is Mine First Poster War Release Italian One Sheet Maureen O'hara '40sThe Star Wars Radio Drama Advertising Poster 1981 Npr Radio C3-p0 Blade Runner Rare 1982 Australian Orig Daybill Movie Poster In Nr Mint Condition Batman - Window Card 1966 - Adam West6 Vintage 1960's-80's Christine Mortuary Sisters Terror Horror 1sh Movie PostersDirty Harry/magnum Force Combo One Sheet Movie Poster Clint Eastwood 1975Chopping Mall Original 1986 One Sheet Movie Poster [julie Corman]Star Wars 1978 Cascade Cheer Rare Ken Goldammer Vader Obi-wan Promotional Poster6 Vintage 1970's-80's Count Dracula & His Vampire Bride Horror 1sh Movie PostersRocky Half Sheet Movie Poster Academy Award Style Sylvester Stallone 1977Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ds Movie Poster Cast Signed Premiere Autograph TmntDolly Parton Straight Talk Door Poster 72x26 InchesDawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Ds Movie Poster Cast Signed Premiere AutographJurassic Park, Original Movie Poster 27x40The Ship That Died Of Shame - Uk Quad 1955 - Richard Attenborough Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Rare 1970 Aust Orig Daybill Movieposter Good Cond6 Vintage 1960's-80's Peter Pan 101 Dalmations Walt Disney Kids Movie PostersSleepaway Camp Scream Factory Poster Horror Shout Robert Hiltzik Felissa Rose Huge James Bond Movie Poster Collection! Originals! Covers All Years! 52 PostersThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre Original One Sheet Movie Poster 27x41 19746 Vintage 1970's-80's Friday The 13th Ruby The Fan Horror 1sh Movie PostersThe Iron Major Autographed One Sheet Movie Poster Pat O'brien 1943 RkoInherent Vice Original D/s 27x40 Movie Poster Joaquin Phoenix Reese WitherspoonOctopussy James Bond 007 Roger Moore Original One Sheet Poster Race With The Devil, Anzio, Waterloo & More Insert Movie Posters (14) 1960s-'70s