Posts Tagged ‘eBay’

Metropolis for Sale

March 22, 2012

Would you believe that a German 3 sheet of Metropolis, the classic 1927 silent sci-fi film by director Fritz Lang is up for auction? Yes, it is true. It is being sold at Movie Poster Exchange.Com. You can click on the website name to go to the page where the poster is being sold. How much is it being sold for? Would you believe $850,000?

Darn, these things always have to go on sale before the Powerball hits $75 million. Kidding aside, I know, this entry seems more than a bit ironic considering last week’s entry dealt with not falling for the hype that surrounds the news of pop culture items being auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Metropolis auction shows another side of the issue. Namely, if you are going to buy a pop culture or movie related item with the hopes it will appreciate in value, you need to get something with a track record of increasing auction and sale prices.

Metropolis is a good example of this.  The last time a Metropolis poster when up for auction was 2005 and it sold for $690,000.  Before the 2005 auction, a Metropolis poster sold on eBay for $200,000. As you can see, Metropolis prices have gone up each time it sold. Yet, before you run off to buy a Metropolis movie poster, there are three important things you should know:

1)    These were original theatrical posters that were sold. Meaning that these were posters that hung in movie theaters and survived all these years.

2)    Metropolis is a very rare movie poster. There are only 4 known to exist.

3)    Don’t expect to find an original Metropolis movie poster at a flea market or in an older relative’s closet.

While Metropolis has a history of increasing sale prices, the only person who got this poster for a steal was the theater employee in 1927 who decided to take the poster home, instead of throwing it out, after the movie’s initial run. Think about, if a movie poster sells for $690,000 in 2005, wouldn’t it make sense that it would sell for more than that in 2012.  Yet, as great as it is that Metropolis has appreciated in value, it is important to note that movie posters that sell for six figures and up are out of reach of the average person.

“Well what about the movie posters from today’s films?” You must be asking. “They are available at a reasonable price. Won’t they sell for big bucks 20 years from now?” That’s hard to say. Case in point, the film Citizen Kane is considered one of the gems of American cinema and it is listed at number one on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 100 Movies list. When it was released in 1941, it bombed. Now imagine you are a teenage movie theater usher in 1941. The manager tells you to get rid of the movie poster for Citizen Kane because its run is over. You throw it out without thinking twice about it. Fast forward to 2006, a one-sheet movie poster (27 x 41 inches) for Citizen Kane sold at auction for $60,000. Who would have guessed in 1941 that a film that bombed would be so revered and its poster so valuable? The answer is few to none. So, don’t go picking up movie posters for Cowboys and Aliens thinking it will become the Citizen Kane of the 21st Century.

Still, if you like Cowboys and Aliens and get a movie poster from the film, don’t let the idea that you may not be able to trade it in for a mansion and a yacht take away from your enjoyment of the poster. After all, space and the American West are both frontiers, so it was only a matter of time before someone put them together. Too bad it didn’t do well in theaters. Also, Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are kind of cool looking. (But not as cool as Matt Damon!)

Sources:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/metropolis-poster-record-leonardo-dicaprio-298114

http://movieposterexchange.com/buy.php?mode=key_search&keyword=metropolis

http://www.afi.com/100Years/movies10.aspx

Heritage Magazine Fall 2008 “Remember When…1941” Pg. 8

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Lost and Found

January 26, 2012

Not too long ago, I learned that an animated version of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolken’s prequel to Lord of the Ring was found. This version is over 11 minutes long and dates from 1966. It was designed by Czech illustrator Adolf Born and was written and directed by Tom and Jerry animator Gene Deitch and you can watch it here:

As you can guess, this discovery got me thinking about other lost and found films. There are many films, most from the early days of motion pictures that have become lost, either through neglect, accident or the nitrates ate away at the film and there is nothing left to watch. There are also many films that were, and still are, languishing in a closet somewhere, only to be found when someone knocks something over or lifts up a box.  So, I have put together a list of some films that are lost and some films that were found.

Lost
The Story of the Kelly Gang
(1906)
This film tells the tale of Australia’s most famous criminal or “bushranger” Ned Kelly. Directed by Melbourne native Charles Tait, the film was a popular and critical success and lead to a succession of bushranger films. Soon these type of films were banned in several Australian states because they romanticized crime and criminals. Unfortunately, at the turn of the 20th century, studios didn’t realize the historical significance of saving a film, like The Story of the Kelly Gang. So, there was no procedure put in place to preserve these films for future generations, hence it became lost. Still, the film has not entirely disappeared. Nine minutes of footage was found in a deserted house in 1979 and just before the film’s 100th anniversary, Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive contacted archives around the world in regards to the film. As it turned out, the British Film Institute had an incomplete film labeled “Kelly Gang,” and it contained more footage of the film. While, it is far from complete, there was enough footage to get a feel for the film and that was added to a DVD of the film.

Humorisk (or Humor Risk) (1920s)
Would you believe that the Marx Brothers made a silent film? Yes, it is true. In fact, it was their first film and they played different characters to the ones that they became famous for. Reports are that Groucho didn’t like this film, so he purchased it and destroyed all prints and negatives. Ouch! That’s taking the killing of your darlings to extremes.

Catch My Soul (1974)
Conventional wisdom states that most of the films that became lost were from the early years of the 20th century. For the most part that’s true, the exception is Catch My Soul. This is a rock opera based on Shakespeare’s Othello and has folk singer Richie Haven as the lead. The film was directed by Patrick McGoohan, who was the lead actor in the famous television show of the 1960’s The Prisoner. The film got poor reviews and one critic said that it was “pricelessly funny” without meaning to be, since it was dramatic film. Wait, it gets worse. According to McGoohan, one of the producers found religion and added 15 minutes of religious material to the film. McGoohan didn’t like that and tried to have his name removed from the credits. The next year it was re-titled as Santa Fe Satan and then it disappeared. So, check your closets and attics, keep an eye open at flea markets and while checking out stuff on eBay, because a print of this film might show up in those places.

Found
Cléopâtre
  (1899)
No, this is not the one with Liz and Dick. This is a French film and the earliest horror film made. This film deals with the re-animated mummy of Cleopatra and the havoc she creates. It was thought to be lost until 2005 when a print of the film was found. So, now the French film canon includes more than just chain smokers who discuss the meaning of life in sidewalk cafes.

Richard III (1912)
This is a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play of the same name and is considered the oldest American feature film in existence. It featured the, then, famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. This film was thought lost until 1996 when a high quality print was found.

Metropolis  (1927)
This film wasn’t lost like the other films mentioned. Rather, after it’s premiere in Berlin, the film was cut from its original 153 minutes to 90 minutes. Restoration was done in 2001 with combined footage from several archives and that brought the film up to 124 minutes. That version was considered to be the most complete version until 2008 when a 16 mm negative was found in, of all places, Buenos Aires. This negative contained 25 minutes of lost footage. This footage was integrated with the 2001 version in 2010 and now the film is as close to director Fritz Lang’s original version of the film as possible.

The lost and found films mentioned in this blog entry demonstrate the importance of archiving films. After all, whether a film becomes a classic or a flop, it is part of the historical record of the studio that made it, so it needs to be saved for future generations. It also demonstrates the importance of keeping track of your own stuff. After all, if you lose your stamp, coin or baseball card collection, do you think the Smithsonian Institute will help you find it?

Of course, it you have any information about the lost films mentioned in this blog entry, please contact the following film archives: 

Australia
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
McCoy Circuit, Acton ACT 2601
GPO Box 2002,Canberra ACT 2601
Email: enquiries@nfsa.gov.au
http://nfsa.gov.au

USA
National Film Preservation Board
Library of Congress (4690)
Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20540
Attn: Steve Leggett, Staff Coordinator
Email: sleg@loc.gov
http://www.loc.gov/film/

The author would like to thank Gene Deitch for his assistance with this blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/the-hobbit-long-lost-animated-short-discovered

http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/9-famous-lost-films-that-have-been-rediscovered/

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/70351

http://www.kino.com/metropolis/restoration.html#rest

Don’t Blame Mom That You’re Not A Millionaire

October 13, 2011

A recent story in USA Today dealt with how people are turning to collectibles and antiques as investment vehicles. Since the stock market tanked in 2008 and has yet to fully recover, many people taking their money and buying old comic books, movie posters and similar items in the hope that they will get a better ROI* than their 401K**.

Of course, what sets a collectible apart is that it is an actual thing that people can hold in their hand or hang on their wall and admire. After all, when was the last time you looked at your quarterly statements and thought “What a thing of beauty all those numbers are.” Yet, the trouble with articles like the one in USA Today is that it encourages people to go out and buy lots of stuff in the hopes it will be “worth lots of money someday.” Yes, there are items for sale at thrift stores, flea markets and on eBay that are being sold for a faction of their true value. Conversely, there are items that are only worth what someone paid for them in 1998 and it’s not even close enough to make a person quit his or her job and live a life of ease. With all this stuff floating around, how can a person tell what’s valuable and what’s not.

Educating yourself before buying anything helps. No one wants to learn the hard way that the original that they paid $$$$ for is a fake worth $. Read books. Go online and find out the going price for the item in question. Terapeak.com is a website where a person can learn how much an item sells for on eBay. If the item a person wants to buy is more expensive than a Beanie Baby or Power Ranger action figure, it helps to buy from an established auction house. The appraisers at the auction house did their due diligence, so a person can rest easy knowing that the item he or she wants to buy is the real thing.

It also helps to realize that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. The Internet makes it very easy for fly by night types to fly by and take your money. So, it is a good idea for a person not to suspend his or her skepticism just because a good deal comes along. Of course, despite what experts will say, my advice remains to purchase a movie poster or other item of pop culture for enjoyment purposes, not for investment purposes. In addition to all the fakes being sold as the real thing, there’s the problem of no one knowing which item from 2011 will be worth lots of money and which item won’t be worth much.

As for all the comic books your Mom threw out that turned out to be worth lots of money, don’t get mad at her. If you had taken better care of them and not left them lying around on the floor in your room, she would not have thrown them out. In time, you could have sold them for a pretty penny (and dollar too) and ended up living a life of ease. Okay not really, I was just exaggerating. Still, if you take care of your comic books or other doo-dads, you will get more enjoyment out of them and that’s something even a recession can’t take away.

Note: The mention of Terapeak.com was done for informational purposes. It was not an endorsement of the service.

*ROI—Return on investment. For example if you buy a stock at $10 a share and you later sell it for $15 a share, your ROI was $5 a share.

**401K—This is a defined contribution plan set up by companies in the U.S. in place of a pension where an employee can have a portion of his or her pay set aside for retirement before taxes are taken out. Sometimes companies can match the employee’s contribution dollar for dollar. What makes the 401K attractive is that if an employee goes to another company, he or she can bring the 401K to the new company and he or she loses nothing. Pensions don’t have that portability. (/www.investorwords.com/11/401k_plan.html)

Sources:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/columnist/waggon/story/2011-09-01/Gold-in-the-attic-Furniture-coins-and-hellip-Ninja-Turtles/50224150/1

Hunter, Lisa. “Author Q & A Internet has Broadened the Art and Collectibles Market for the Better” Heritage Magazine, Spring 2008, pg 68-69

A DeLorean and Loads of 3.75 Inch Action Figures, Just To Name A Few

October 6, 2011

Paul Fraser of Paul Fraser Collectibles recently wrote on his website about two auctions of movie memorabilia. One auction is for one of Deloreans used in the Back to the Future films. (Seven cars were used in the films and of those only three are still around.) While an auction estimate for the car has been set for $400,000-600,000, it will most likely to hit the low end of the estimate. In November 2010 a DeLorean replica sold for only $112,920. A portion of the proceeds from this auction will go to Parkinson’s Disease charities.

The other auction Paul Fraser wrote about will take place on eBay and the items being auctioned off are Star Wars memorabilia from all six films. These items range from screen used items like Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter from the 1977 Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope to loads of Star Wars 3.75 inch action figures, and other pieces of Star Wars memorabilia. All the proceeds from this auction will go to Stand Up To Cancer for its work in cutting edge cancer research.

Still, the question remains what is it about movie memorabilia that causes people to flock to auctions, flea markets and eBay? While I could wax poetic about childhood and teen memories that many of these items helped to create and I did in my entry of November 5, 2009 titled Flea Market Finds and Miscellaneous Discoveries. There’s more to this phenomena, such as the “Looky at the new toy that I got.” factor that hasn’t been explored. There are loads of people out there who would love nothing more than to own something that is related to their favorite movie and brag about it. The most famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) of memorabilia collectors are Star Wars and Star Trek fans.  I entered the words “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”  in  eBay’s search box and it came up with 300,929 results for Star Wars and 120,920 results for Star Trek. Yes, there a lot of action figures, models and other do-dads out there just waiting to be bought by fanboys and girls. Which of course, leads to the Bill Gates factor as in “Be nice to the nerd, because that person could be your boss one day.” Many movie memorabilia items sell for four figures and up. Nerds, while they aren’t known for their winsome personalities, are known to have a singular focus on something. It is this singular focus that leads to them starting their own businesses and they end up doing very well financially.  So, when they get large amounts of discretionary income, what do you think they will spend it on? If you answered movie memorabilia, you are right.

So, the next time you scoff at someone spending thousands of dollars for a car or model used in a movie, consider this:  For all you know, it could have been that kid you knew growing up who wore the pocket protector and thick glasses and is now a multi-billionare who just happens to be your boss.

Sources:
http://www.paulfrasercollectibles.com/News/MEMORABILIA/Video-of-the-Week-Marty-McFly’s-DeLorean-could-arrive-at-auction-in-the-near-future/8185.page?catid=78

http://www.paulfrasercollectibles.com/News/MEMORABILIA/’A-Force-for-good’…-eBay-prepares-massive-charity-Star-Wars-auction/8157.page?catid=78

The Travels of American Pop Culture

February 10, 2011

A few weeks ago, I sold a Cher mask from the movie Burlesque on eBay to someone in Germany. I also read a news story about two Australian Elvis fans and I found a blog entry about Ghanaian movie posters of American films.

Well, as you can guess, these things got the gears in my head turning. One would think that someone like Cher wouldn’t “translate” to audiences outside of the U.S. As for Elvis, while he did make movies and sang in said movies, he never toured outside of the U.S. What about the Ghanaian movie posters? You ask. I’m getting to that now. These movie posters were developed in the 1980’s as VCR’s and videotapes of American films became available. Entrepreneurs would drive to villages with a VCR, television and a generator, set up a mobile movie theater and charge admission. Local artists were used to create the movie posters that were used to promote the film. The Ghanaian posters are different than what the studios created for the film, yet they are very creative.  You can see examples of these posters here:

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/cool-stuff/cool-stuff-ghanaian-movie-posters.php

“Yeah, yeah.” You might be saying now. “American pop culture is found all over the world. Big deal. That’s old news.”

As someone who has visited relatives in Italy and Australia, I can testify to how well American culture travels. Yet, when I see or hear something American overseas, I reflect on how well our culture sells the U.S., even though American life isn’t as pretty as it looks in the movies. After all, we know that not everyone succeeds at what he or she wants to do, no matter how hard the person works, the guy doesn’t always get the girl (and vice versa) and the underling who stands up to the boss more often than not, finds him or herself without a job. Still, depending on the country and income level, foreigners either ignore it, see it as an example as why the U.S. is the great enemy of the world or take it for what it is—namely as a great fantasy.

Yet, a big draw of the U.S. and American pop culture is our belief that there are no limits, creativity and hard work lead to success and the guy gets the girl (and vice versa). Yes,  technology helps to spread our pop culture all over the world. Of course, if it wasn’t so appealing, it wouldn’t have travelled very far in the first place.

Sources:

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/cool-stuff/cool-stuff-ghanaian-movie-posters.php

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/01/28/3124178.htm

Movie Collectibles—Are They Worth Anything?

July 9, 2010

Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight saga is playing in movie theaters and in case you haven’t noticed there are loads on Twilight items being sold, ranging from posters to jewelry to games and everything else in between.  I went to eBay and entered the word “Twilight” and there were over 15,000 items for sale in the Entertainment Memorabilia category and over 11,000 items for sale in the Collectibles category. So, many, many people are milking the Twilight cash cow.

Still, Twilight is not the first movie to have an army of merchandise ready to be sold to adoring fans. Those of a certain age will remember all the do-dads that came along when the first three Star Wars movies were released. Of course, these items, whether new or old, cost money. After a while, people start asking, “Are these things worth anything?”

That question was asked in an article in the July 2 issue of The Guardian and the answer is it depends. The article states that according to Adrian Roose, director at Paul Fraser Collectibles, items like buttons, pens, t-shirts, etc, that were made specifically for to cash in on movie’s popularity, aren’t worth much. Roose goes on to say that signed copies of the Twilight books and movie posters that hung in movie theaters are items that are actually worth something because of their rarity.

I would add that if you want to buy that Twilight or Star Wars item, go right ahead. Just don’t expect it to appreciate in value to such a degree that you can sell it, retire early and move to Florida. No one knows what will be considered a classic 20 or 30 years from now and what will be considered junk.  As I have stated previously, if you are going to spend your money on something and you have taken care of the needs part of your life, you should spend it on something that gives you some joy.  If Twilight or Star Wars items give you some joy, great. Just realize that the return on your investment is just that—the joy that you feel from having such items.

Note: The mention of Paul Fraser Collectibles and eBay was done for informational purposes.  It was done not an endorsement of either company

eBay search of July 4, 2010 http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=twilight&_fln=1&_mlcat=45100&_trksid=p3286.c0.m282

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/jul/02/twilight-saga-collectibles-cost-value

What To Look For When Buying A Movie Poster

March 31, 2010

Since I sell movie posters, I’ve learned a few things about what to look for when buying a movie poster and I want to share them with you. My tips are for those who are buying a poster via an Internet auction site, like eBay or Movie Poster Bid. Still, they are applicable for an offline purchase, as well.

Learn the lingo
If a seller states that he or she is selling a Midget Window Card or a Lobby Card and you have no idea what those things are, do a little research. Since you are spending your hard earned money on something, know what you are buying. Google any other unfamiliar terms to find out what they mean. FYI: A Midget Window Card is a 8 x 14 inch movie poster. It is a smaller version of the movie’s One Sheet poster, which is 27 x 40 inches, and it was used as a promotional item. The studios distributed the Midget Window Cards from 1932 to 1947. So, if you get your hands on a Midget Window Cards, know that you have something that is very rare. As for the Lobby Cards, you are going to have to look that up on your own.

Ask questions
If you can’t find what you are looking for or if there is anything you aren’t sure of, ask questions.  Ask questions of the seller and again go on Google and look up people who can give you the information that you need. Also, get second and possibly third opinions. Don’t stop until you get your answer. If you don’t get an answer, then go elsewhere for the item. On a related note, don’t feel that you are bothering the seller with your questions. As a seller of movie posters myself, I welcome questions. To me, questions are a sign that someone is interested in an item and is very close to making a purchase. So, you can ask me as many questions as you want, I won’t get annoyed.

Expect some condition issues

Movie posters are made of paper and they aren’t always treated with care. So, expect pinholes, creases, small tears and for older posters, some discoloration. If a poster looks pristine for its age, particularly if it is 10 years old or older, chances are that it is a reproduction. If the seller clearly states that the item in question is a reproduction, don’t feel like you are being cheated. Technology is such that you can get a high quality reproduction of a movie poster at a good price.

Know when things were done
Taking One Sheet movie posters as an example, One Sheet posters were printed on both sides starting in 1990. This is done so that when the posters are put in lighted display case, the poster colors stand out. So, if you run across a One Sheet movie poster from 1990 or later and it is not double sided, it is either a reproduction or a video/DVD release poster.

Deal with a reputable seller
Related to asking questions, if you are buying from an online seller, look for lots of positive comments. The more positive comments from different people, the better. If you are dealing with a seller offline, get recommendations from friends or go to Google, to do a little research on the seller. If after doing research, still aren’t sure about the seller, try someone else.  Of course, it is always good to remember two things when it comes to making purchases:

1)    If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2)    You lost nothing if you walk away from a deal you don’t feel good about with your money still in your pocket.

Source: Heritage Magazine “Mini Movie Posters” page 25, Summer 2008