Original film posters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on where they are intended to be displayed in the cinema, and in what country. So you can usually find an original size (format) which will be suitable for the space you have in mind. But because these are all original pieces, you can’t just select an image you like and ask for that in a particular size. Our Sizing Guide is designed to help you understand the sizes and to visualise the various formats as they might appear in your home.
The sizes below were standard. There are sometimes very slight variations, and the centimetre sizes are approximate because film posters were traditionally prepared using imperial measurements. We’re illustrating here the most popular formats, but please keep scrolling down for a fuller description of poster formats from many different countries.
Hollywood has been the home of the movies since the original film pioneers moved West from New York more than a hundred years ago, initially to avoid patent litigation instigated by the inventors of cinematography, and then to exploit the weather and choice of local landscapes.
The majority of new films are US produced, and the majority of famous images and collectable posters are from original US materials. The main sizes are:
For collectors based in the UK, film posters which were made and used here, and which we actually saw outside the cinema when we saw a film, can be particularly desirable, even for films which were produced in the US or elsewhere.
The artwork is usually, but by no means always, similar to the US image. The main sizes are:
Lobby Cards are much smaller than posters. They were produced in sets, in the US and UK, usually of eight.
As their name suggests, they were displayed outside the cinema or in its lobby or foyer, and are essentially a series of different scenes from the film, designed to give the waiting audience an idea of what they would see inside.
Until the 1960s, they very often also featured artwork in their margins which was the same as, or based on, the main poster art. Many studios also issued one Title Card with seven scene cards, with the Title Card featuring the main poster artwork.
Lobby Cards can often represent a more affordable alternative to posters, and are also popular with collectors with less free wall space, as US and UK lobby Cards typically measure only 11″ x 14″.
The artwork on French posters for US or UK films is usually different from the country of origin’s poster, sometimes more “daring”, and often very collectable.
France has always had a very active film industry, so there are also many popular domestic titles. French posters come in a number of sizes, including:
Like France, Italy produces a significant number of posters for its own national productions, as well as often stunningly different versions of posters for US productions.
The rich artwork, and the variety of sizes available, makes Italian posters very attractive to collectors. The main formats are:
Early Argentinian posters frequently feature beautiful artwork, not always based on the US versions, although from the 1970s onwards, the images have tended to be cruder and less attractive.
Australian posters for non-Australian movies usually comprise locally drawn versions of the same images as appear in a film’s country of origin. Sometimes the image is virtually indistinguishable from the “original”, but it is often clear that a less talented poster artist was at work. The paper is usually slightly lighter in weight than is used in the US or UK.
Usually found in one of the smaller formats. They are typically dual language, French and Flemish, with the original English title appearing somewhere in the small print.
West German and post -unification posters often feature similar artwork to the country of origin, but can on occasion be very different. The most common sizes are:
Their artwork is usually built around photography from the film, and the most common size is the:
Historically, produced on cheaper paper and harder to find in good condition. Newer posters are more robust, and both offer colourful variants on the country of origin poster, as well as illustrating the country’s own substantial level of local film production. The main sizes are:
Polish posters, especially those pre-1980, are generally acknowledged to feature some of the finest artwork and images. The artwork usually bears no resemblance to that used in the country of origin’s campaign, or even to the film itself
It is rather an artistic interpretation of the title by very talented local artists. The posters are usually produced on lesser quality paper, and come in a wide variety of sizes, including:
They are also generally printed on lesser quality paper, but the artwork – especially by a number of early Swedish poster artists – is again often very striking, and collectable in its own right. Sizes also vary but include:
There is a significant Spanish film industry, which is represented in the poster artwork. Posters for English language films (often released in Spain some time after their original local release) often employ very similar artwork to their originals, and offer more affordable versions of classic images. Usually printed (often in the US by the original printers) on lesser quality paper. The most common is the:
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