Are Movie Posters a Good Investment?
Here at Art of the Movies, we are passionate about Original Movie Posters. We believe they should be out of long-forgotten boxes and drawers, and on walls, being appreciated and loved as great pieces of art.
When choosing posters for our own home, we do not buy for investment. We buy for the love of the art. That said, we are ordinary, everyday people. We have a family, a mortgage, and (all being well), an impending old age to provide for. Money matters.
Whilst the majority of movie posters are well within the reach of a lot of people’s disposable income, some are now getting rather valuable, not in the realms of fine art, or of a print by a modern artist like Banksy or Kaws, but, they may now cost a thousand pounds, some posters more. Other than the super rich, anyone is bound to ask themselves if they are making a sensible purchase.
The short answer is that there is an active International market in movie posters and it is highly likely that you will be able to realise a sale of your poster in a relatively short period of time, should you ever need to. (We may even buy it off you.)
But, our advice is always to only buy what you love, with money that you can afford to spend. Buy with the heart and the head.
However, instability in the financial markets has resulted in many considering art as a potential investment vehicle. This has lead to fine art records being broken at auction houses, and, the rebirth of the art print market. Even a limited edition print on paper from a modern, non-traditional artist, such as Banksy, will now cost many thousands of pounds. The market in Original Vintage Movie Posters is also being affected.
We have therefore, in a rudimentary manner attempted to look a little deeper at the question.
“Are original movie posters a good investment?”
It’s a blog post that we have hesitated to write. We are not finance experts - but we do know posters. Please treat it as an amateur look at a few data points from the past ten years. Understand that it is definitely not exhaustive. It certainly isn’t worthy of a rigorous or academic review. You should not use it to inform an investment decision.
If you’re willing to accept that, then please do read on…
Shares are where a lot of people invest their money (either directly, or as part of an ISA or pension), so, we’ll start by looking there to gather some data for comparison.
The FTSE 100 Share Index
This U.K.’s FTSE 100 Share Index tracks the price of shares in the largest publicly listed companies in the U.K. The graph below shows the annual change in the Index from 1985 to the end of 2017.
The blue line shows the annual percentage change, each year, since 1985. As you can see, in some years the market has risen. In others it has fallen. The deep drop during the financial crisis of 2008 is very visible.
On average, since 1985, the FTSE 100 Share Index has actually gained 6% per annum, but, the swings are quite dramatic, from -31% in 2008, to +28% in 1986. Only two years (1999 and 2012) actually came close to the 6% average.
The red line shows you the cumulative change. As we can see, since 1985, overall, that average of 6% per year adds up. The value of the FTSE 100 index has grown significantly.
Within this blog post, we are going to focus on the last ten years, from 2008 to the end of 2017. Within the graph above, we have highlighted that period in red. The graph below shows exactly the same data, but only for those last ten years.
Again, the annual percentage change is in blue, the cumulative change is in red. From its low at the end of 2008 (4434 points), by the end of 2017 the FTSE 100 had grown by around 57%, to circa 7700 points.
The Movie Poster Market
We now move to the market for Original Vintage Movie Posters over the same ten year period.
Drawing comparisons with the market for Shares poses three challenges:
- There isn’t a central “Movie Poster 100 Index” that tracks and reports the current price of an agreed set of movie posters.
- Like Shares, there isn’t one ‘product’ that you can track the price of, but many thousands.
- As Movie Posters are a physical product (and one that wasn’t originally produced to be sold) they come in ‘used’ condition. This can range from near perfect, to very poor. This affects sale prices.
However, the market for Original Vintage Movie Posters is mature and prices can be located going back many years. So, we have settled on the following crude approach:
- Select twelve well-known movie posters that have had an active market for at least the last ten years.
- Randomly choose four of them and take price data from a single reputable and transparent source.
- Filter this data to provide a set of prices for posters that were in a similar condition when sold.
- Analyse this data to understand how the price for each poster has changed over the ten years between 2008 and the end of 2017.
Here are the twelve posters we selected.
From those, four were selected, and then labelled posters ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’.
All four had a spread of sales over the decade, and, had many sales of posters in similar condition. We could therefore filter the sales to provide comparative pricing. Here is a summary:
Let’s take a look at the data for the four posters.
The graph below shows the sales data for Poster ‘A’. The blue line shows the price obtained for the poster at each of its 94 sales. The red line provides the trend in price over the period.
Whilst prices from the ninety-four sales over the decade have fluctuated, the red line shows that the trend was for the price of Movie Poster ‘A’ to increase. Over the period this was by ~48%.
We have produced the same analysis for each of the four posters.
Moving to the graph for Poster ‘B’ (below), seventy-two comparable sales were made over the decade. This poster also shows a trend of increasing price, this time of ~ 38%.
Poster ‘C’ had fewer comparable sales over the period - only sixteen – but the increase is price is quite remarkable, ~ 232%.
Poster ‘D’ saw a larger number of comparable sales, eight-five, with a trend that shows an increase in price of ~ 76%.
So, let’s summarise all of those graphs in to a single table showing the results for our small sample of four posters.
What does this show us? All four of the posters we looked at have seen an increase in price over the period 2008-2017. This is in line with the anecdotal sentiment, that the market for Original Vintage Movie Posters is growing, and prices are rising.
The scale of the price increase does vary from poster to poster. If you were buying purely for investment, some posters would have given you a higher return than others. A canny investor would have made a very sizeable return if they had picked the right posters.
Comparing the Movie Poster Data with the FTSE Data
At this point, we are going to restate our disclaimer! A complete and exhaustive analysis of the movie poster market over ten years would be a large undertaking, certainly one beyond our resources. This blog post is not scientifically vigorous. It certainly must not be used as the sole basis for investment decisions.
The table below provides a sorted summary of the price increase of our four movie posters and of the FTSE 100.
Two of the posters ‘out performed’ the Share index. Two ‘under performed’ it.
But, perhaps the most important point, is that if you had bought any of the four posters, you would not have ‘thrown your money away’. In fact, if you sold today, you would get more than your original money back.
Perhaps that is a good point to return to the question we raised earlier in the post…
“Are movie posters a good investment?”
… there are no guarantees in life, markets can go up as well as down, but, given what we have looked at, if you are looking at a genuine Original Movie Poster, "Yes, we think so".
Unlike a reproduction movie poster, or a ‘stock image’ photo in a frame from a home / lifestyle store, Original Movie Posters have an inherent value.
Even from the rudimentary data that we have analysed, it is clear there is an active International market and if you ever need to sell your poster, you are likely to be able to do so.
But, we hope you never do. We hope you live long and prosper and that your Movie Poster hangs on your wall, giving you enjoyment, for many years.
So, that’s it, we can put our spreadsheets and calculators away and put our white gloves and ‘poster hunting boots’ back on… Gosh, that feels better.
We do hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post, but, we would encourage you to look beyond investment and to see the beauty in Movie Posters, displaying them with pride in your home.
Buy what you love, with money that you can afford to spend. Buy with the heart and the head.
There’s much to love in our Catalogue of guaranteed original vintage and contemporary movie posters, please do take a look.
We hope you find something there that excites you.
Adam and the 'Art of the Movies' team