Christmas Movie Posters: A Yuletide Collectible Category
By Mike Bloomfield
Some of our strongest memories of Christmas involve movies, either those that evoke the very ethos of Christmas or others which have a Christmas like theme. Often, the movies we associate with Christmas can be very personal. Posters for Christmas movies vary in collectability and in the genre in which they are based. With the festive season fast approaching, the purpose of this article will be to examine some of the more obvious Christmas candidates and some of the more unusual Christmas posters, too.
Colorful, cheery and inviting. What more could you want from this design for the classic Christmas movie “White Christmas”? (Photo: moviepostermem.com)
A True Christmas Movie Poster?
Perhaps the best place to start would be with that archetypal Christmas movie—the one that everyone has either seen or at least heard the title song from—1954’s “White Christmas.” A musical and one taking full advantage of the crooning ability of lead star Bing Crosby, the film is unashamedly sentimental yet still retains an everlasting appeal thanks to its Christmas-spirit and breezy soundtrack. The film’s posters have likewise maintained their popularity, particularly the U.S. 1-sheet design, which takes full advantage of the film’s bright and cheery outlook through its striking and colorful design. Expect examples of this poster—now highly collectable, given the iconic status of the film’s star and title song—to fetch upwards of $1,200.
Christmas Fun and Laughter
“A Christmas Story” is a simple yet wonderfully humorous take on the Christmas poster. (Photo: moviepostermem.com)
Another genre that sits well with Christmas is comedy and, as expected, there is a plethora of films to choose from. However, one of the best-loved Christmas movies has to be Bob Clark’s entertaining, nostalgic and humorous “A Christmas Story,” released in 1983. Although receiving a lukewarm critical and commercial response originally, the film has since become one of America’s favorite Christmas movies, thanks to home video and repeat television airings. The film’s playful nature is reflected in its delightful U.S. International 1-sheet, which also brilliantly captures Clark’s wry sense of humor. Rarer than the U.S. theatrical-release poster, this version, depending on condition, can typically come at $700 plus.
Christmas with a Gothic Twist
“The Nightmare Before Christmas.” A restricted color-scheme though, like the film, tons of fun! (Photo: emovieposter.com)
Similarly entwined with Christmas is the animated film, which allows the magical spirit of the event to be explored to its fullest. Tim Burton’s 1993 gothic ode, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” is a case in point and is now seen as a classic example of Burton’s twisted yet ultimately sweet sense of humor. The film successfully bridges the gap between multiple genres: animation, musical, horror, children’s film, etc. This is reflected well in the U.K. quad poster; its restricted use of coloring matches the film’s darker visuals while the design makes sure to display the gothic take on the festive season. These posters are already highly sought after and, if in good condition, can cost upwards of $250.
Christmas as an Incidental Backdrop
Despite playing a key role in the plot, Christmas is eschewed here in favor of Willis and explosions in 1988’s “Die Hard.” (Photo: moviepostermem.com)
There are many films in which Christmas appears as a background theme rather than being of core importance. “Die Hard” from 1988 is widely regarded as one of the greatest action films ever produced, with the plot centering around a robbery on Christmas Eve in a Los Angeles skyscraper. Bruce Willis, in a career-defining role, plays John McClane as the only man who can stop the theives and whose wife is one of the hostages in the escalating heist. Although the Christmas setting is not referenced at all in the U.K. quads for the film, it nevertheless was an integral part of the film, with McClane and the soundtrack often comically reminding the audience of this. The U.K. quad itself prioritizes the action of the film alongside Willis. At $200, for action collectors, this piece is undeniably a must.
Christmas Collides with the Horror Genre
A disturbing and darkly satirical design for this slasher film, “Silent Night, Evil Night.” (Photo: moviepostermem.com)
At first sight, Christmas and horror would not seem to make good bedfellows. However, for a successful example, look no further than Bob Clark’s low-budget 1974 slasher, “Black Christmas,” which was also released under the title “Silent Night, Evil Night.” Although derided upon initial release, Clark’s film about a psychopath who picks off the members of a girls sorority house has since established a cult status and also proved to be highly influential in the slasher sub-genre of horror. Designed by Robert Tanenbaum, the U.S. 1-sheet for the film, under the “Silent Night, Evil Night” guise, gleefully presents a more disturbing take on Christmas, with the pretty ceremonial advent wreath contrasting strongly with the horrifying image of one of the victims in its center. Costing between $450-600, the appearance of the film’s title over a red ribbon perfectly represents the twisted sense of humor in the design.
A Rival to ‘White Christmas’ as the Quintessential Christmas Movie Poster
Basic photographic imagery yet still preserves the undying message about the human spirit in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (Photo: moviepostermem.com)
It would seem fitting to end this article with a film that has become synonymous with Christmas spirit: Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” from 1946. Like many of the other films included in this article, Capra’s drama performed poorly on original release. It has since, however, become one of the most cherished and admired films from any genre. In one of his best-known roles, James Stewart plays George Bailey, a deeply troubled man who, on Christmas Eve, is visited by his guardian angel who shows him all the good that his selfless actions have done. Original posters for this iconic film have been known to realize prices upwards of $10,000. As a more affordable alternative, one could consider the 1997 U.K. quad re-release, which has become a collectable item in its own right. Playing on the film’s feel-good spirit, the poster features radiant imagery of the Bailey family amidst scenic, snow-covered conifers in the background. Nice examples will set you back $200-250.
As the most important date in the Christian calendar, it is hardly surprising that Christmas and Christmas themes feature prominently in various movies. As this brief slalom through the world of collectible movie posters shows, filmmakers have both embraced the spirit of Christmas or alternatively provided some nice twists on the Christmas theme. As always, prices vary widely. But a Christmas-themed collection would present a fascinating project. All we need now is for Santa to deliver a windfall!
Mike Bloomfield has been collecting cinema & music memorabilia, with a particular focus on U.K. concert memorabilia & quad cinema posters from the 1960s and ’70s, for 30 years. He runs the two MEM Music and Cinema Memorabilia websites—RockPopMem and MoviePosterMem holds private exhibitions too, provides insurance valuations, a consultancy service to the auction industry, and has contributed to various book publications. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mike’s son Chris contributed to this articles.
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