History of Movie Posters

Early Movie Inventions
Early Movie Exhibitions
The First Movie Posters
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1900’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1910’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1920’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1930’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1940’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1950’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1960’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1970’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1980’s
Movies and Movie Posters of the 1990’s Through Today

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Although considered a relatively new medium to most, the movie industry has been in existence for over 100 years. It has not only survived but prospered through a century of almost insurmountable obstacles and adversities. Today, movies are a billion dollar industry. The movie poster, in all of its sizes and forms, has been the backbone on which this industry was built. Movies and their posters have grown side-by-side since the late 1800’s.

Volumes of materials have been written about the history of the movie industry. However, there is little information about the history of the movie poster. The following is a brief look into the history of the motion picture and how it impacted the movie poster.

Early Movie Inventions

During the late 1800’s, many inventors experimented with devices that would make pictures appear to move. The Belgian scientist, Joseph Plateur, invented the phenakistoscope in 1832. This device consisted of two disks a few inches apart on a rod. Plateau placed painted pictures of a person or thing on the edge of one of the disks, each picture being slightly advanced. The other disk had slots, so when both disks were rotated at the same speed, the pictures appeared to move as they came into the view of the slots.

There were a number of inventors throughout France, Great Britain and the United States attempting to create a means of projecting moving pictures. While no one really knows who actually first produced and projected a motion picture, several gentlemen are historically given the credit.

With the aid of transparent celluloid film developed by Hannibal W. Goodwin, and the photographic equipment manufactured by George Eastman, Americans Thomas Edison and William Dickson began work on their invention, which they called the kinetoscope. The kinetoscope was a cabinet with about 50′ of film on spools. While viewing through a peephole, patrons would turn a crank which made the spools move. This gave the appearance of moving pictures.

In 1894 Edison opened the Kinetoscope Parlor in New York, containing two rows of coin-operated kinetoscopes where patrons could view one to two minute moving picture shows. Kinetoscopes were soon found in London and Paris. While Edison considered moving pictures as a passing fad soon to fade, other inventors recognized the potential and began work on improving cameras and projection equipment.

Early Movie Exhibitions

While the United States was enjoying the new motion picture fad, French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere were working on their own projection invention. On February 13, 1895, they patented their first projection machine, and on March 28, 1895, their first film, Lunch Hour at the Lumiere Factory was shown to the Societe d’Encouragement de L’lndustrie Nationale. On December 28, 1895, in the Salon Indien of the Grand Café, 14 Boulevard des Capucines, the Lumieres presented the first short film to be projected on a screen publicly in front of an audience. The film was titled LArrivee d’un Train en gare, and consisted of scenes of a train arriving at a station. Soon movies were being shown in all major cities throughout Europe.

Back in the United States, Edison continued his work on the kinetoscope. After adapting his device for projection capabilities, Edison presented his first public exhibition of motion pictures projected on a screen at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City on April 23, 1896. The program consisted of a performance by a dancer, a prize fight and scenes of waves rolling on a beach. The first recognized American cinema, indoors with seating, was Vitascope Hall, which opened on June 26, 1896 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The theatre had 400 seats and its program consisted of short scenic items.

The First Movie Posters

Soon public exhibitions were a regular happening, and exhibitors began to look at ways to compete for patrons. The earliest forms of movie advertising included the use of hand-painted crates and sandwich boards. But this crude form of advertising would soon be obsolete thanks to the artistic contributions of Frenchman Jules Cheret.

The turn of the century saw a world with a very high illiteracy rate. Posters, with their vibrant colors and pictures, and limited words, provided a means of advertising on a level that could be understood by the majority of the general public. Posters could be placed almost anywhere in the city and were widely used to promote a variety of products and services, including the early cinema.

Jules Cheret, considered in the advertising world as the father of the modern poster, is also credited with bringing the movie poster into existence. Through the use of the printing process known as stone lithography (which was invented around 1798) Cheret produced a lithograph for the 1890 short film program called Projections Artistiques. The lithograph showed a young lady holding a placard with the times of the shows. Cheret followed with his poster for Emile Reynaud’s Theatre Optique 1892 program called Pantomines Lumineuses.

Before they were called “movies,” they were known in the new industry as “animated pictures.”

In 1896, M. Auzolle designed the first poster for a specific film, actually containing scenes from the program, for Lumiere’s film entitled L’Arroseu Arrose. This film is also generally considered the first fiction movie ever made. The film’s plot involved a young boy who squeezed a gardener’s hose, prompting the gardener to look into the hose to see what was stopping the water’s flow. As the boy released the hose, the gardener was sprayed with the water. The boy’s prank resulted in a spanking.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1900’s

The movies up to this point in time were nothing more than pictures of actual events, such as waves washing against a beach. While the initial motion pictures flourished, the crowds eventually began to grow bored, and the motion picture industry faced its first sense of doom. In 1899, Georges Melies, a French magician, produced the first motion picture to tell a story. He filmed hundreds of fairy tales and science fiction stories. Other movie producers followed, and interest in motion pictures again began to flourish.

By 1900, motion pictures were enjoying enormous popularity throughout the United States and Europe. Motion pictures became popular attractions at amusement parks, music halls, traveling fairs and vaudeville theatres. The vaudeville style “stock poster” was soon gaining favor with the movie companies. One of the earliest of these was produced by the American Entertainment Company, circa 1900. It measured 28″ x 42″.

In 1903, Edwin S. Porter, an American director, produced the first motion picture utilizing modern film techniques to tell a story. The film, The Great Train Robbery, was an eleven minute movie describing a train robbery and the pursuit and capture of the robbers. This movie was a tremendous hit, and this film’s success led to the establishment of “nickelodeons,” the forerunner to movie theatres.

Initially begun in 1905 by an ingenious Pittsburgh businessman, nickelodeons were stores which were converted into early theatres by simply adding chairs. These nickelodeons charged $.05 and showed a variety of movies, accompanied by piano music. By 1907, there were approximately 5,000 nickelodeons throughout the United States, and the demand for new movies was continually growing.

By 1909, the number of companies producing movies was growing by leaps and bounds. Although Thomas Edison resented the fact that these newcomers were profiting from what he considered to be his invention, he decided that it would be best to join forces with the larger studios in an attempt to shut out the smaller ones. The major studios at the time, Biograph, Essanay, Kalem, Kleine, Lubin, Selig and Vitagraph, joined Edison to form the Motion Picture Patents Company. This group of studios also organized the General Film Company to distribute the studios’ films to theatres.

One of the first steps made by this newly-formed cartel was to set standards for advertising materials.

The movie industry starting off had borrowed the advertising paper sizes from other entertainment areas like Vaudeville, fairs and the circus. The sizes that were readily available were the one sheet (27×41, the three sheet (41×81, the six sheet (81×81) and the 24 sheeet (246×108).

While these sizes were popular, there was a need for more specialized material just for theaters. The first card stock material created was the insert and lobby cards. Then a few years later 30x40s and 40x60s were added.

Although Edison had used Hennegan Show Print in Cincinnati for printing posters for his first films, the General Film Company contracted with A.B. See Lithograph Company of Cleveland to produce all the members’ posters and ad materials.

Edison set the standard size for a movie poster to be 27″x 41″. This poster became known as the “one sheet.” The one sheet was designed to be used in glass display cases inside and outside of movie theatres. The first such one sheets depicted the company identity, the film’s title and plot. Each of the member companies had its own stock poster borders printed in either two or three colors. There was a white panel left in the center which would have the title and description of the movie’s plot. In some cases, even the ending was printed. The posters sometimes included a photograph supplied by the movie’s producing company.

Strict censorship standards were established by the General Film Company, and all member companies were required to meet these rigid standards. In most cases, the photographs were rather tame in nature, and usually showed the leading man and lady. The producing companies paid A.B. See for the posters and then sold them to the individual nickelodeons or movie houses for about $.15 each.

There were other movie companies that were not part of Edison’s cartel. But many of them did adopt the standard sizing of the posters.

Since the A.B. See posters were subject to the scrutiny of the Patents Company, independent lithographers began printing generic posters showing scenes varying from romantic embraces to shoot-outs. These posters were popular with many theatre owners because they were considerably cheaper (about $.06), could be used over and over, and were more graphic and uncensored than the materials sanctioned by Edison’s Patents Company.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1910’s>

Up to this point in film history, there were no “movie stars.” Most of the actors in the early films choose to remain anonymous. It was to the benefit of all involved with early films to keep their movie’s participants unknown. Legitimate stage actors preferred to remain unknown, embarrassed that anyone would find out that they participated in this new medium. Movie producers were secure in knowing that they could control the medium as long as the movie participants remained unnamed.

By the year 1910, however, things began to change. As early as 1908, studios began receiving mail addressed to nameless actors. Movie producers, fearing that giving the identity of the stars would cause them to demand more money, continued to insist on anonymity. But the studios were soon faced with the reality that movie goers wanted to know the names of the actors and actresses. This would become quite evident thanks to the stunt perpetrated on the industry by Carl Laemmle, owner of IMP studio.

Mr. Laemmle managed to steal one Florence Lawrence from a rival movie studio. To this point, Ms. Lawrence was known to her fans as the “Biograph Girl.” In what could be considered one of the first publicity stunts pulled off by a movie studio, a rumor was started, purportedly by Mr Laemmle himself, that the adored “Biograph Girl” was dead. In order to set the record straight, Mr. Laemmle published a full page ad in a St. Louis newspaper stating that he had “nailed a lie” and would be presenting Ms. Lawrence in St. Louis. When more people showed up to see Ms. Lawrence than had come to see then President Taft who was visiting St. Louis one week earlier, the studio owners had to acquiesce, and no longer would movie actors and actresses be kept anonymous.

It was at this point that producers recognized that the real selling tools were not the movies but the “stars” that graced their screens. Suddenly, posters had to be designed with consideration given to the stars and their “pecking order.” Posters now had to reflect the size and status of the ‘leading lady” and “leading man.” Soon the public could recognize one’s “star status” simply by looking at a movie poster. The size of the print and the placement were easy indicators as to just how “big” a particular star was. Movie contracts would now include clauses relating to the size and placement of names on the movie poster and other advertising materials. Actors and actresses had now become powers to be reckoned with.

By the early 1910’s, nickelodeons were being replaced by movie theatres. These theatres had more room to advertise their new films, which had now moved to two reels. To complement the one sheet, new advertising sizes and types were introduced by the Patents Company.

Lobby cards were smaller in size and were normally printed in sets of eight. The first of these cards were actually 8″ x 10″ black and white stills, which were printed in sepia or duotone and tinted by hand. They were later replaced with 11″ x 14″ color lobby card sets. These sets normally contained eight scenes from the movie which were normally displayed in series in the theatre lobby.

Edison’s Patents Company was dissolved through court litigation. The dissolution of this company had a direct affect on movie posters. No longer restricted by the censorship guidelines imposed by Edison’s companies, A.B. See Lithographers could create more lavishly produced materials without any restrictions. The movie companies could then distribute the posters and other materials through their own exchanges or could assign them to agencies who rented them. These posters could be reused time and again. The posters that were muslin-backed could be used almost indefinitely.

With more films on the market, competition heated up and movie studios widened their advertising boundaries to include areas outside of the movie theatre. With new roadways being built and the number of cars on these new roads, movie companies recognized that the highway’s “open spaces” offered another advertising medium – the billboard. The “24 sheet” as it was known was already being used in circuses, fairs and vaudeville, became more popular. It measured 246″ x 108,” exactly 24 times the size of the one sheet. These billboards could be noticed at great distances, and studios utilized the talents of many recognized artists to design their 24 sheets.

In order to take advantage of the number of window, pole and wall spaces around a community, a new form of advertising paper was introduced. These new materials, called window cards, were printed on card stock and measured 14″ x 22″, with a wide top border which was used to print show times and dates. Window cards were purchased in bulk by the theatres and film exchanges, and were placed in retail and office windows, on poles, on walls – anywhere there was space.

With the increasing number of studio-owned theatre chains, movie studios would map out a full national advertising campaign. As part of this campaign, the studios would produce a series of press materials that could be used by the theatres and film exhibitors to promote a movie. These “press books,” as they were most commonly called, were introduced in the around 1917. The “press books” would sometimes be a part of a “press kit,” which, in addition to press information, would include special promotional ideas. These materials were also referred to by other names, most commonly “showman’s manual” or “campaign book.”

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1920’s

The early 1920’s were considered the golden age of the silent movie. Grand movie palaces soon replaced the movie theatre, and the crude posters of old gave way to more splendid, artistically aesthetic movie posters Well known commercial artists were commissioned by many studios to design movie poster “portraits” of leading stars. Unfortunately, the American studios did not allow the artists to sign their posters, as commercial artists were allowed to do on European movie posters.

These new posters no longer depicted scenes — the posters were designed with portraits of the stars, the movie title and the stars’ names. There was an occasional slogan or two, but the emphasis was now placed on the movie’s “stars.” Most of the studios had their advertising offices in New York, and this is where most of the posters originated from.

It was during this time, (actually started in 1919) that the National Screen Service (“NSS”) first made its appearance. NSS began competing with the studios’ lucrative business of creating and distributing “trailers.” Trailers were the film clips of coming attractions that would be shown after a feature presentation – thus the term “trailer.” Also popular at the time were Glass Slides used as trailers. We don’t know if NSS handled both the Glass Slide trailers or just the film trailers. It would be two more decades before NSS would be a predominant factor in the movie paper industry.

By the mid-1920’s, movie theatre owners and film exhibitors were provided with a full array of promotional materials for their use in advertising. Up to this point, most of the materials were printed and distributed by the studios. However, a number of independent “secondary” printers began issuing various forms of movie posters, giving theatres and film exhibitors an alternative to the studio-produced materials.

By the 1920’s, a new printing process was developed. Known as photogelatin or heliotype, this new process was used primary on smaller sized card stock items, such as lobby cards, inserts and window cards. Evolving from one color to three (yellow, pink and blue), this process was used for materials meant to be viewed closely. These items were not as effective when viewed from a distance. One-sheets and larger paper continued to be printed via stone (and later aluminum plate) lithography.

In 1926 the radio made its appearance and it had a direct impact on the movie industry. The public demanded that their movies be “heard” as well as seen. Although a few motion pictures had used sound as early as the late 1890’s, it was very difficult to adjust the sound to the action on the film.

In the mid-1920’s, Bell Telephone Laboratories developed a system that could coordinate the sound with the action being projected. In 1926, Warner Brothers experimented with this system, known as Vitaphone, in their movie Don Juan. Don Juan was actually a silent film with recorded music and sound effects. Warner Brothers released their 1927 The Jazz Singer as a silent film with a few songs by star Al Jolson. However, in one scene, Jolson actually spoke a few lines. Shortly thereater, the Movietone system was introduced. Sound was actually photographed directly on to the film. After movie-goers were exposed to this new sound-on-record method, they demanded only sound pictures.

The popularity of these new “talkies” was so great that movie attendance in the United States increased from 60 million people in 1927 to 110 million two years later. With attendance figures skyrocketing, the public demanded more movies. More movies meant more competition, and more competition meant more advertising dollars and more movie posters.

The appearance of movie posters would soon change dramatically, due to a new color offset printing process developed by Morgan Litho Company This process made it possible to photograph the artwork provided by studios through screens separated by color. While not as colorful as the stone lithography posters, the color offset process produced sharper images. Over the next twenty years, the two processes would continue to be used. However, by the 1940’s, color offset would replace stone lithography for all poster printing.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1930’s

The 1930’s would usher in the time known in the movie industry as the “Golden Age of Movies.” This time period saw the emergence of the great Hollywood musicals, the legendary gangster films and the ever popular horror movies. Sound recording equipment improved during this time, which gave creative directors even greater artistic weapons. Some the greatest films in movie history were released during this decade, culminating in 1939 with one of the biggest money-marking films in movie history, Gone With the Wind.

At this time, the country was caught in the grips of the “art deco” movement (a 20th Century style of decorative art using geometrical designs and bold colors). Motion picture companies kept the pace with the rest of the country, and the movie posters began to take on the “art deco” look. The use of dense backgrounds was eliminated, and more white space was created. Varying sizes and styles of letter were used, and the placement of the letters became more creative.

The movie studios during this period generally produced two styles of the one-sheet and half-sheets, each with different artwork. There were known as Style “A” and “B” (used by Paramount Studios); Style “C” or “D” (used by MGM); or, in some cases, “X” and “Y” (used by Universal in the 1930’s). There were occasions when more than two styles were released, particularly on major productions.

While the film industry was flourishing the field of make-believe, the United States was facing the all-too-real prospect of the Great Depression. With the country suffering such a tremendous economic blow, many felt that the movie industry would surely be one of the casualties. And although the industry did suffer, it was not nearly as hard hit as most had expected. The public still needed to escape – maybe even more so during this time.

The only real negative affect experienced in the industry was that movie goers now sought out cheaper priced tickets, so theatre owners were forced to “play the market.” With the cheaper admission tickets, the movie studios chose to cut back on operating costs – one of these being the advertising materials. As a result, movie materials were more cheaply produced, and thus lost some of the lavishness of their predecessors.

Movie studios and stars were not the only ones to benefit from the movie industry. A number of service related businesses were also flourishing. Theatres and film exhibitors had to deal with each studio individually to get their movie paper or “accessories” as they were sometimes called. In an attempt to centralize this movie paper distribution, independent regional exhibitor exchanges began cropping up all over the country. These independent exhibitor exchanges would get their paper from the studios, and then buy or rent them to theatres and film exhibitors. The theatres liked dealing with these exchanges because they could get the movie paper from all studios at one location, and had the option to either purchase or rent it.

By 1939, National Screen Service, which had been cutting and distributing trailers since the 1920’s, entered into a contract with Paramount Pictures to begin distribution of their movie paper. Over the next few years, the remaining major studios, Columbia, Loew’s, Fox, United Artists, RKO, Universal and Warner Brothers, as well as other independent film makers, had also contracted with NSS to handle production and distribution of their movie paper.

In addition to the NSS, there are at one time 28 independent regional theatre exchanges around the country. As the NSS gained more control, court battles ensued between the NSS and these independents. Through a compromise, NSS began distributing to the independents as well as directly to theatres.

In order to control the number of materials going through it, NSS instituted a date and number coding system for all the movie advertising paper they handled. The numbering code included the year of distribution and the sequential order of the movie’s release. At its peak, 90% of all advertising materials were handled through the NSS regional offices.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1940’s

With the Great Depression only a decade behind it, the country faced yet another global crisis – World War II. The movie studios and many of their stars did their part in creating a climate of patriotism, and war movies were genre of the day. In fact, a number of war documentaries were made, starring major movie actors who walked away from motion pictures and joined the ranks of the military. Those stars that didn’t or couldn’t enlist did their part by making movies about the war. For most of this decade, war movies dominated the screens.

The movie industry, which suffered little in comparison to other businesses, was forced to make cost-cutting adjustments – primarily in their advertising budgets. With a worldwide shortage of paper, many studios used the lessor grade of paper utilized by the newspapers. Some were also printed on the reverse side of old war maps.

By the late 1940’s, World War II now years behind it, the world was introduced to a new entertainment medium – the television. By the end of this decade, TV had attracted a large number of movie-goers. The studios responded by reducing the number of films released, and many directors, stars, producers, directors, and others involved in movie making found themselves out of contracts.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1950’s

With the return of the GI’s from World War II, and a public that demanded more “fantasy,” the movie studios changed their movie subject matter from the war to science fiction, comedy, and “B” grade drive-in movies. Although introduced in 1933, the drive-in theatre reach its peak during this period with over 4,060 screens in the United States.

Television continued to bite into the movie industry’s profits. It was no longer necessary to leave your home for your viewing pleasure. To combat the “comfort of your own living room” thinking pattern, the movie industry experimented with a number of new “wide-screen” projection processes. Two such processes, known as CinemaScope and Todd-AO, allowed movies to be show bigger, more expensive and more spectacular. These processes were ideal for such epics as Ben Hur and Cleopatra. Another lure used by the movie studios was the 3-D movie, along with its special 3-D viewing glasses. William Castle, the master of the gimmick production, was bringing audiences back to the theatres by offering them “barf bags” and “buzzer seats.”

The “fan magazines” also made its appearance during this time period. Photoplay and Movie Mirror were two of the pioneers in this area, and their magazines were replete with color photographs of all major movie stars. Movie companies adopted this style of advertising, and soon movie posters began to look more like color photographs, using tinted photographs and large stock lettering. With the number of cars on the roads, posters were designed to be seen from long distances. Stone lithograph movie posters were now a thing of the past.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1960’s

The most popular movies of the early 1960’s were “teen oriented.” “Teen idols” from the world of rock & roll successfully crossed over into movie stardom, most through the genre known as “beach movies.” The “Elvis” musicals were also extremely popular. Action movies also grew in popularity, particularly with the introduction of the infamous Agent 007, James Bond.

Social mores began to change with the mid-1960’s. Movie studios were not held to the same strict censorship guidelines as television. As such, more and more “adult” oriented movies were produced, introducing the movie public to nudity, profanity and excessive violence. Desegregation and the Vietnam War created an atmosphere of social consciousness, and movie makers had to address these issues through their films.

Movies posters during this time mirrored the changing social climate. The posters from the “teen” oriented movies were normally simple in their artwork design, featuring full length shots of the major stars. Posters from the action movies usually featured the hero, sometimes in a series of dangerous situations. As the 60’s progressed, the posters began to reflect the changing attitudes toward violence and sex. The use of photographs were replacing the painted artwork common in the early years.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1970’s

The early 1970’s were mostly a continuation of the late 1960’s. The most significant change came in the area of black movies. Up to this time, black movies were distributed only through a chain of black theatres. However, with the changing attitudes toward race, several black action and adventure movies crossed over into the main theatres. Before long, the racial dividing lines disappeared. and black cast movies became common features in major theatres.

The late 1970’s brought about the Godfather, Rocky, Star Wars and Star Trek. This was a springboard into the era of the blockbusters – the 1980’s.

The movies posters of the 1970’s continued the use of photography. Drawing and painting styles were still being used occasionally, and artists like Amsel, Frazetta and Peak lent their names to some of the more popular film posters of this era.

Movie posters from the Star Wars and Star Trek movies were extremely popular, and were responsible for making movie poster collectors out of many fans.

Movie posters were now being printed on a clay-coated paper which gave them a glossy finish smooth to the touch.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1980’s

The 1980’s witnessed great advances in the development and use of special effects. Special effects were the key to the success of the major box office smashes of the 1980’s, including The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Return of the Jedi (1983), Ghostbusters (1984) Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Batman (1989).

By the 1980’s, the National Screen Service lost its control over the movie paper industry, leaving only three regional offices remaining in operation. This fact, along with the advent of the multi-screen complexes, the lineup of advertising materials available to theatres changed drastically.

Prior to this time, most theatres had just one screen and one feature movie. More advertising space was dedicated to each movie, with theatre lobbies covered with various sizes of posters for one movie. With more screens and more movies, the advertising space in the theatre lobby now had to be divided equally among all films being shown. As a consequence, movie studios opted to phase out of some of these “old standards” and introduce a more versatile “mini sheet” which could be produced in any smaller size. This “mini” sheet could take the place of any of the smaller sizes, since there is no standard size.

The video rental market, which began gaining popularity during the 19805, has given movie producers another avenue for increasing profits. No longer do movie studios have to rely on theatre box office receipts to make money. Video rental income now figures heavily in weighing the success or failure of a film.

Since video rentals also rely on advertising, a new line of video materials were introduced. Video posters, which appear to be similar to the theatre one sheets, are distributed to video rental outlets for display. Many studios issue a number of materials strictly for their video market, making it a viable profit alternative for movie studios.

The rise of the video resulted in the demise of reissues/rereleases. Instead of rereleasing a film to the theatres, movie studios simply released them on video cassette.

Movies and Movie Posters of the 1990’s thru today

The 1990’s brought about the computerization of special effects, bringing to life creatures and advents that could only before be imagined in one’s mind. This decade has brought two of the biggest money making films of all time, Jurassic Park and Batman Forever, to theatres.

Advances in animation during this decade have resulted in some of the biggest box office successes in movie history, such Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King and Pocahontas. It has also led to the billion dollar a year “merchandising” industry.

Although cable and satellite television have gained popularity, movie theatres and video rental outlets continue to profit. And it is expected that this trend will continue into the future.

As far as movie paper is concerned, the one sheet continues to be used extensively today, although some studios have shortened it one inch to 27″ x 40″. Many of today’s studios have opted to use the “mini” sheet. Since the mini sheet is not a standard size, it can be used to replace many of the old favorites, like inserts, half sheets, window cards. Mini sheets are also used as promotional giveaways, as were the heralds in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Standups, mobiles and counter displays are also very popular. Video advertising materials are also still widely used. In addition, posters made for cable TV and network television movies have also been introduced.

As it has from the beginning, the movie industry will battle (and will most likely succeed) to stay on top of the entertainment business. With the introduction of cable and satellite television and video movie rentals, the movie companies have again found themselves in a position of vying for the public’s entertainment dollars. With the current competitive market, movie studios are must rely heavily on their advertising and promotional programs. The movie poster is still viewed as the “centerpiece” of the advertising paper, and some of today’s posters offer the finest in color, art and graphic detail.

If history is indeed a look into the future. the popularity of the movie poster will continue, even in light of the other advertising avenues available The movie poster has always been the rock on which the movie industry was built — and all indications are that it will continue to be into the future.

Many thanks to Ed Poole from Learn About Movie Posters for permission to use this information.