Popular movie poster sizes
Movie paper refers to cinema promotional material printed on paper. Movie display art also appeared on more durable card stock (LobX cards, half sheets, and insert cards, for instance).
Common popular sizes (in inches) include the following:
27” X 41” before the 1980s, thereafter, 27” X 40”
This is one of the most popular sizes of movie paper collected. They were stored folded before the 1980s, sometimes rolled thereafter.
22” X 27” or 22” X 28”
Half sheets, no longer made, were a staple of movie advertising through the 1950s. They are popular with collectors because they’re easy to frame and display. Their card stock means they’re frequently in better condition than their one-sheet counterparts and they were generally stored flat, so they’re in better condition than many items from the same film printed on paper. They often appeared in one display window above several lobby cards.
11” X 14” for the standard size, they also come in mini (8” X 10” or 8” X 11”) or Jumbo sized, 14” X 17”
Lobby cards are among the most collectible of movie posters. Their card stock means they’re better preserved than most paper items. Title cards, often with the same art that is also on a half sheet or one-sheet, are the most popular.
Lobby cards are easy to frame and display. The Standard size came in sets of eight. Sometimes a title card will sell for more than all the other cards in a set. Sets frequently show up in auctions. Many single cards are offered on eBay.
14” X 36” insert cards, easy to frame and sharing the better-preserved quality of card stock, remain popular, even though they have not been made for many years.
Insert cards fit those long, thin display windows common to movie theatres in the pre-measles era.
Glossy still photographs:
8” X 10” glossy still photographs—originals—come in black and white and color, but most, until very recently, came in black and whites (as many as 25 per movie) and were aimed at daily newspapers, weekly entertainment paper, and other media primarily printed in black and white.
Color slides frequently accompanied movie press kits more recently, along with black and white stills and the press information packets.
22” X 28” vertical
14” X 28” standard
10” X 18” mini
Window cards sat in store display windows everywhere from barbershops to five and dimes at one time.
Frequently, those actually used, show fading from such window display.
They are on card stock and condition plays a role in their value, but they usually sell for much less than other movie display items.
5” X 7”
6” X 9”
Heralds often appeared two to a page in newspapers. Today, newspaper-page sized ads appear in special sections of major papers such as the New York Times, but heralds as such have mostly disappeared.
Heralds were produced in huge numbers. Some people actually focus on them, but they are on paper, often newsprint. They are not as valuable as other movie display art, but popular movie titles sell regularly in auctions.
45” X 59” horizontal; 30” X 45” vertical
Tough to display and not offered that often, these are the large posters often displayed in subways, transit malls and other highly trafficked areas.
41” X 81”
Three sheets, first used in vaudeville and by circuses, usually came in two or three pieces cut horizontally. Their size makes them tougher to display. They’re printed on paper. They were originally three times the size of one-sheets, hence the name. There are other three-sheet sizes. Disney issued some at 41” X 78” for instance. Three sheets were common until the 1980s. Some collectors like the fact that these posters were printed in fewer numbers than more standard sizes, and are thus more rare.
81” X 81”
The six-sheet is quite a poster, dominating if you display them. Fewer of them were made, which increases their attractiveness to some. Stored folded, they sometimes came in four pieces.
Other common movie paper collectibles include press kits, which usually include photos in various forms and the press information. These come in many forms, from a folder to a CD.
Press books were exhibitor’s manuals that included background information and feature stories about a film with stills, usually black and white, that newspapers or magazines could cut out and paste directly into a page layout.
They also include posters available, other promotional items and ideas. These remain relatively inexpensive. I bought one from the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers for $20.
Popular foreign sizes:
30” X 40”
The British Quad poster’s dramatic size appeals to many collectors and they generally draw good prices for desirable titles. Quads are the most popular British poster size.
13”X30” Australian Daybills were produced in low numbers and are fairly rare. They frequently have better art work than other movie paper. They’re a good buy if you can find them.
Italian one-sheet, or Foglio
28”X39” Always issued folded.
14” X 20” through the 1950s, then 20” X 28”
These are similar to lobby card sets, often using the same artwork as lobby card and stills.
We’ll cover less popular, odd sizes, other foreign sizes, and unusual items such as standees and billboard sizes in another article.