Framing Movie Posters – What to Look For In A Frame…
Our mission is to get more original movie posters where they belong – in to a frame and adding something special to a stylish home.
So, as well as finding the best original vintage and contemporary movie posters that we can, we also offer a range of custom-made movie poster frames.
But what should you look for when buying a frame for your movie poster?
To help, here is the thinking behind our own range of movie poster frames…
It may sound obvious, but there are a few things to consider.
First off, movie posters are large and they are unusual sizes. Standard size for a modern one sheet movie poster is 69 cm x 102 cm (27 in x 40). That’s not a size carried by a lot of standard frame manufacturers.
Prior to the mid 1980’s, the standard size for a one sheet was 69 cm x 104 cm (27 in x 41 in). An even more unusual size.
The British quad poster is 102 cm x 76 cm (40 in x 30 in). Again, not a common size these days and even bigger than a one sheet.
On top of the unusual standard sizes, handle a few movie posters and you realise that the standards are just guides. A lot of movie posters vary by half an inch or so on both length and width. That is enough to affect whether your poster will actually fit in its frame.
You should never compromise on size. Your poster either won’t fit, or will be rattling around in a frame that is too big.
We concluded that we had to offer frames for standard sizes, but in order to cater for the variations from standards, mass pre-production was not an option. We had to have the flexibility to custom build frames to specific movie posters.
We have found that a lot of traditional off-the-shelf frames are not strong enough. Over time they can warp. While being handled (and in the unfortunate event of them falling) they offer little protection to a delicate movie poster.
The ‘frame’ of a picture frame is called the moulding. We have experimented with MDM and polycore (very lightweight and made from recycled polystyrene) and conclude that a quality wooden frame cannot be beaten.
As well as providing the frame with rigidity, they are strong and give the highest quality finish.
As a result, we chose to offer wooden frames. Our current range includes ayous wood (a light hardwood), oak, spruce and poplar.
Protection From UV Radiation
Our perception of colour on a movie poster is based upon light absorption by chromophores in the poster's inks. Over time, exposure to ultra-violet light (which is present in sunlight) causes the chemical bonds in the ink to break, causing fading of the image.
On a day to day basis, this isn’t particularly noticeable, but (as shown in the image below) over the space of a few years it can greatly reduce the quality of your poster’s appearance and as a result its value too.
As a result, we chose to offer glazing that filters 99% of the harmful UV radiation as standard.
Weight and Protection From Breakages
A wooden frame is heavier than a synthetic or aluminium counterpart, but the greatest contributor to a frame’s weight is the glazing.
Glass comes in a range of thicknesses. As a rule, at a given thickness it is twice the weight of a quality acrylic like Perspex. At 3mm thickness, glass is around 7.5 kg per square metre, acrylic is circa 3.6 kg per square metre.
That can add a significant strain when handling and hanging a large movie poster.
Another big consideration is the danger of damaged glazing. Despite careful handling and hanging, glazing can be subject to impacts which opens up the possibility of breakage that could damage a framed movie poster.
Acrylic has been shown to have seventeen times the impact strength of glass and is more resistant to shattering.
As a result, we use Clarity+ Perspex acrylic in our frames at 1.5 mm thickness for smaller pieces such as lobby cards and 3 mm thickness for large posters such as one sheets and quads.
Protection From Acidic Compounds
Paper produced since the mid-19th century is produced from wood pulp. As this slowly breaks down it naturally releases hydrochloric acid that causes paper to yellow / brown and become brittle.
This can take many years to become visible in a movie poster and if you are concerned about long-term degradation, a good paper conservator can ‘deacidify’ your poster.
However, use of wood-pulp acidic materials in the framing of your poster can lead to visible damage in a far shorter time-frame.
Failing to protect your poster from the wooden back board that sits behind it will lead to accelerated yellowing / browning of your poster, as may be the case with this theatre bill from 1933.
Use of an acidic mount can also lead to ‘mat burn’, leaving a visible yellow border on your poster where it has come in to contact with the frame mount.
As a result, we use acid-free conservation mounts and include an acid-free barrier board in all of our frames as standard.
Mount Or No Mount
Use of a mount (known in the U.S. as a mat) is primarily driven by personal preference – but, there is also a practical consideration. A mount will overlap the edges of your movie poster by a few millimetres. Movie posters are delicate and many will have taken a knock to an edge or two. Use of a mount is a fantastic way to cover up any of those imperfections.
Through experimentation, we conclude that while most movie posters look superb with a mount, there are examples that do not – but this is only our personal preference.
As a result, we offer frames with or without mounts in most sizes.
A Range of Mouldings
Along with protecting, a good frame should enhance the display of your movie poster.
A custom framer has access to thousands of potential mounts, from pencil thin aluminium to flowing gothic gesso.
While the more outlandish can work with some movie posters, more often than not, simple works better, but offering just ‘black’ and ‘white’ isn’t enough.
In order to cater for a range of posters and multiple home surroundings, we settled on a range of five mouldings.
These mouldings are based on our own experience of virtually framing thousands of movie posters. They all meet our criteria of being made of solid wood, providing the rigidity required to protect a movie poster in a frame and also being of the quality needed to enhance the display of a movie poster.
Your movie poster is a precious artefact. It has survived as a true link with a film. It is a genuine piece of movie history.
Whether you are framing for the long term or plan to rotate posters frequently, a high-quality frame is essential to protect and to present your movie poster at its best.
Ensuring a good fit, providing a high-level of protection and enhancing the display of your movie poster are all important factors when selecting your movie poster frame.
Why not take a closer look at our range of specialised movie poster frames?
Adam and the Art of the Movie team