U.S. Sizes | Other Countries | Formats | Other Terms | Conditions
MAJOR U.S. SIZES
1 sheet: Approximately 27 x 41 in., printed on paper stock, is the standard poster used in U.S. theaters. Posters printed before 1985 are almost always found with two horizontal folds and one vertical fold, except Disney posters which often do not have the final vertical fold. Since the mid-1980s most posters have been sent directly to theaters rolled. Also, with the advent of backlit light boxes in 1985, a growing number of modern posters are printed on both sides. Recent posters often measure 27 x 40 in., or smaller.
Key Art: The basic design of a movie poster. Key art elements are often re-worked for use on advance, teaser or styles B, C, etc. movie posters. The elements were also used for trade promotions, press kit covers, etc.
30 x 40: 30 x 40 in., printed on heavier card stock. Image invariably same as 1-sheet but may be silk screened instead of lithographed.
40 x 60: 40 x 60 in., printed on heavier card stock. The image may differ from the smaller sizes, and again may have been silk screened. Designed to be used outside the theater, on an easel, exposed to the elements. This is sometimes,incorrectly, referred to as a 2 sheet.
3 sheet: 41 x 81 in., printed on paper stock on two and rarely, three separate sheets. Often pasted onto wall outside of theater. From the 1970s on, three-sheets were sometimes printed in one piece and issued as "international" versions to be used abroad.
6 sheet: 81 x 81 in., printed on paper stock, usually in four sections; for use in larger U.S. theater lobbies and movie palaces, or on the outside of the building.
1/2 sheet: 28 x 22 in, printed on card stock. Image usually different from that used on 1-sheet, often same as the first, or title,card, in the lobby card set.
Insert: 14 x 36 in., usually printed on card stock. Later ones were printed on thinner stock.
Window Card (WC): 14 x 22 in., printed on cardboard. Top four inches were left blank by the printer for the local exhibitor to fill in. Placed in the windows of local stores (in exchange for movie passes) They are sometimes found with the top 4" trimmed off. There is also a Jumbo Window Card (JWC) which is 22 x 28 inches and is a very rare size, and Mini Window Cards (MWC) measuring 11 x 14 and also printed on cardboard.
Lobby Card (lc): 14 x 11 in. printed on light card stock. Originally made in sets of eight for display in theater lobbies. Most sets have one title card with production credits and poster artwork. The other seven cards are colored photographic scenes. Lobby cards are no longer used in the US, but are still sometimes produced for the overseas market. There are also Jumbo Lobby Cards (JLC) which were made before 1940 and are usually found only as single cards.
Mini Poster: Ranging in size from app. 11 x 18 inches up to formats approaching a one sheet, these are promotional posters distributed at theatres during the early days of a film's initial run. They are invariably the final version one sheet image.
Billboard or 24-sheet: Approximately 106 x 234 in., printed on paper stock, the size of a roadside billboard. Usually printed in 12 sections.
Banner: Approximately 81 x 24 in., Older ones were printed on bookbinder's cloth or light card stock; modern ones are vinyl or light card stock or paper, and the size is highly variable.
Still: 8 x 10 in. Black and white photos, usually with a glossy finish, used for lobby display and press promotion.
Door Panel (dp): 20 x 50 in., printed on paper stock; often in four different styles for use on theater entrance doors.
Subway: 59 x 45 in., horizontal format. Used in US mass transit systems, mostly in New York. May have different artwork from 1 sheet.
Bus Shelter: 47 x 70 in., vertical format. Used mostly in Los Angeles.
Lenticular: Approximately 27 x 41 in., printed between composite sheets of plastic and lit from behind creating a 3D/holographic effect.
Holo-Foil: Recent creation. Elements of a lenticular on a foil background.
Mylar: Highly reflective background, often mirror reflective.
Herald: A flyer distributed in advance of the opening of a film; printed in a variety of sizes from one page to a 4 page foldout. A herald was designed to be imprinted with the name of the theatre and playdates of the film. (Sample flyers were often included in the press book).
Glass Slides: 3 1/2 x 4 inches. Produced from the silent era through the forties; used to promote coming films and advertise local businesses.
Souvenir Program: Hardbound or paperbacked multi page booklet filled with scenes from film and much background information on production. These were created for major movie releases and sold in lobbies of first run movie theatres.
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POSTERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
Australian Daybill (db): 13 x 27 in., similar to US insert but printed on thin paper.
- Quad: 40 x 30 in, printed on paper stock; the standard British poster. The image is often designed to fit the horizontal format, and is not just an imitation of the US 1-sheet artwork.
- Double Crown (dc): 20 x 30, printed on paper stock.
- 1 sheet: 27 x 40. Not as common as the Quad.
- 3 Sheet: 41 x 81. Not as common as the US 3-sheet.
- Underground Poster aka Giant Fly (fly): Approximately 65 x 40 in., printed on paper stock; used on the walls of mass transit underground stations and bus shelters. When this size is not produced, several copies of international one-sheets are grouped to fill the display area.
- Front of House (foh): 10 x 8 in., printed on card stock; usually issued in sets of eight in color for display in theater lobbies, especially in the UK. They are often smaller versions of lobby card sets.
- Billboard: 80 x 90 in. The top ten inches are left blank so the theater information can be put in later, as with US window cards.
- Locandino: 13 x 27 in
- Photobusta or fotobusta (fb)" 27 x 19 in. Glossy, high quality lithographs, used as lobby cards in Europe. Size may vary. May be either vertical or horizontal format.
- 2-foglio (due): 39 x 55 in. Standard poster size.
- 4-foglio (quattro): 55 x 78 in. Very large poster printed in 2 pieces.
- Mini (for posting on walls): 40 x 55 cm (app. 16 x 22in 2); but the size may vary considerably.
- Petite: 60 cm x 80 cm (app. 23.5 x 31.5 in) Either Mini or Petite is sometimes called an affichette.
- Grande: 120 cm x 160 cm (app 47 x 63in) This is the standard french poster.
- 8 Panneaux: 4 m x 3 m (158 x 118 inches) Used above the marquee in large French cinemas.
- A00: 118 x 166 cm or 46 x 65 inches.
- A0: 84 x 118 cm or 33 x 46 inches (may be vertical or horizontal format).
- A1: 59 x 84 cm or 23 x 33 inches; this is the most common size.
- A2: 59 x 42 cm or 24 x 17 inches.
- A3: 29 x 42 cm or 11 x 17 inches.
- A4: 21 x 20 cm or 8 x 8 inches.
- Lobby cards are also printed on paper, they vary in size from 8 x 12 in to 12 x 18 in.
Belgian posters measure 24 x 33 before 1939 and are now about 14 x 22, either horizontal or vertical.
Polish posters are mostly the same size as the German A1, but, because of paper shortages during the years of Soviet occupation, the posters are not uniform as to size, paper or color.
ALL DIMENSIONS ARE APPROXIMATE
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Single Sided/Double Sided: Posters were invariably single sided prior to 1988 when lightboxes were introduced for theatre lobby display of one sheets. Light washed out single-sided posters, so image was re-enforced by being reprinted on reverse. Double-sided posters are considered more desirable because 1) far fewer were produced in the early days of the format and 2) they are much more difficult to reproduce -- though there are a few examples of double-sided reproductions.
Rolled/Folded: Prior to 1990 movie poster were almost always folded at the printing plant. They traveled between the film cans from theatre to threatre on the once extensive movie exhibition roll-out. With the birth of the megaplex, posters were sent to theaters directly in tubes. There are rare examples of rolled posters prior to 1990, usually pulled at the printer's by special order.
R, Followed By A Date Year (R79, e.g.): Indicates a re-release or re-issue. When a studio re-cycled a film by bringing it around to theatres again, they would issue another poster. Often it was the same artwork with slight variations in color scheme. Sometimes it was a whole new design. Usually a re-release poster is worth less than the the original release poster, but there are a few rare exceptions where the re-issue poster has superior art work. The R does not indicate a reproduction.
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Teaser: A poster promoting a film, but not using its title.
Advance: A poster issued before release of the film which may be of a different design from the regular release poster, and including a release date printed on the poster.
Press Book: A campaign manual for exhibitors with sample ads, promo ideas, sample press releases and images of posters that can be ordered. They are valuable as reference guides to rare versions and sizes of posters. Also may contain product tie-ins, information on radio/TV spots, images of stills, sample herald, etc.
Press Kit: Package of information sent to entertainment editors and film reviewers, consisting of 8" x 10" stills (and sometimes color slides), a synopsis of the film, official credits, and biographies of the principals -- often in folder with poster image on cover.
Press Preview Screening Info Pack/Program: This is material given out to reviewers at press screenings.
Promo Item: Promotional gimmick sent to top film reviewers and entertainment news editors. Almost always especially created to hype movie and not available for sale to the public. Actually, studios frown upon the distribution of promo items beyond the newsroom.
Key Set: A movie publicity term of art indicating a specific group of 8 x 10 stills. The term "key set" when used without a modifier refers to all the stills (several hundred) selected as the master set of images on a film. They are usually mounted on canvsas and placed in binders. Other key sets (derived from the master set) are: newspaper key set (aka New York newspaper set): the stills placed in a press kit. The complete newspaper set was often called a brown bag set because they were placed in a small bag and stamped with the title of the film and other information. Other key sets: fashion key set; stunt key set, etc...actually any complete group of stills selected for a particular purpose. The same term was later used when color slides were introduced as part of the publicity package.
Style: A, B, C, etc. With certain films, 2 or more different styles of posters are created to appeal to different markets; or during a long run of a film a new style is introduced to refresh an ad campaign (e.g. STAR WARS -- with styles up to "D").
Glossary by Barbara and Rudy Franchi, authors of Miller's Movie Collectibles. Contains much more information on film paper: history, prices, formats, styles, sizes. Over 325 color illustrations plus info about props, autographs, lobby art, etc. Available from Amazon.com. (Comments, additions, corrections welcome.)
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GLOSSARY FOR CONDITION
Condition A: Excellent. Like new. Unfaded. If mounted, then only minor restoration in margins or background area. If unmounted, then no visible defects. A very rare rating.
Condition A-: Generally in unused condition. May have slight wear from storage. This is just about our highest rating.
Condition B: Very good to fine. Minor imperfections. More substantial
restoration allowed. Slight defects in margin or background area if not
Condition B- or C+: May have separation at corner points.
Condition C: Poor Major problems. Separation at folds, major restoration, staining, fading, holes.
(+ or - is used to indicated degrees of the above)
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