An Italian movie poster for the 1942 movie Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman sold for $478,000 on Saturday evening, becoming the (equal) second-most valuable movie poster ever sold at auction.
The huge 55.5 by 78.25 inch (141 cm x 199 cm) Italian poster was not produced until the film was released in Italian in 1946 and is the last known copy of this version. The poster artwork was produced by Luigi Martinati.
Though Casablanca was produced in 1942, it was only after a revival of the movie more than a decade later that it received the critical acclaim that propelled it to become one of the most beloved movies of all-time. Casablanca was directed by Michael Curtiz and adapted from a stage play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison entitled Everybody Comes to Rick's.
Several posters for the landmark movie had sold for large amounts of money previously, with sales of $203,000, $191,200, and $107,550, all by Heritage Auctions.
The most valuable movie poster in history is one of just four surviving from the epic 1927 silent movie classic Metropolis, the story of a dystopian future set in the year 2000 and one of the feature films to pioneer the science fiction genre. The poster is at left above, while the scene at right is from the film.
Various scenes from the Metropolis can be seen above.
The Metropolis poster sold for $690,000 at a Reel Galleries auction in November, 2005. German artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm (1899-1969) created the poster, the novel and screenplay were written by Thea Von Harbou (1888-1954), and the film was directed by Thea's husband, Fritz Lang (1890-1976). You can watch the trailer for the remastered original movie here.
Viewed as a group, the most valuable movie posters in history have a definite horror film theme.
The movie poster for the silent 1927 mystery film London After Midnight was sold for $478,000 by Heritage Auctions in 2014. A movie poster for Boris Karloff's 1932 horror movie The Mummy, sold for $453,500 at Sothebys in 1997 and was the most expensive poster in history for eight years. Completing the top five most expensive posters sold is the poster for 1933 movie King Kong which sold for $388,375 at Heritage Auctions in in 2012.
The 1931 horror monster film Frankenstein had quite some impact in cinematic history and on this list, holding sixth place as the most valuable movie poster but with numerous other entries in the top 100 poster sales and with the posters of spin-off films such as The Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein also holding top 100 placings. The Frankenstein movie poster at left above was sold by Heritage Auctions for $358,500 in 2014, while the poster in the center of the image for the 1935 sequel The Bride of Frankenstein sold for $334,600 by Heritage Auctions in 2007. The movie poster for the 1934 movie The Black Cat sold for $334,600 by Heritage in 2007.
The remainder of the top 10 movie posters ever sold continues the horror/monster trend with a poster for the 1931 movie Dracula selling for $310,700 at Heritage in 2009, another poster from the 1934 movie The Black Cat fetching $286,800 at Heritage in 2007, another poster for the 1931 movie Frankenstein fetching $262,900 in 2013, and another poster from the 1931 King Kong movie selling for $244,500 in 1999.
The original draft artwork for the movie poster for the 1963 movie Cleopatra movie sold for $246,000 at Profiles in History in 2011. Cleopatra is the first post-WW2 movie to appear on the list. The poster for the 1933 movie Flying Down to Rio sold for $239,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2008.
Very few of the top 20 most valuable movie posters come from films that are not of the horror genre - these two are exceptions, being the movie poster from the 1941 movie The Maltese Falcon that sold for $191,200 at a Heritage Auctions sale in 2015. The second post-WW2 movie on the list of the most valuable movie posters is (somewhat bizarrely) Saturday Night Fever (1977). The poster sold for $145,500 at a Christies auction in 1995.
Other notable sales include the movie poster from the 1925 movie Phantom of the Opera, which sold for $203,150 at a Heritage auction in 2004 and the movie poster for the 1929 Russian movie Man with the Movie Camera, which sold for $176,326 at a Christies auction in 2012. Posters from the 1931 movie Dracula appear regularly in the top 100 most valuable movie posters, with this poster having fetched $143,400 at a Heritage Auction in 2012.