U.S. Movie Posters - Names and Sizes...
Here at Art of the Movies, we source original movie posters from all over the World.
In our Catalogue you'll find amazing posters from Europe, China, Japan and Australia. The majority however will be from the home of Hollywood, the United States.
Within our poster descriptions for U.S. posters, you will often see terms such as 'one sheet' or 'insert'. In this blog post, the first in our 'Poster Names and Sizes' series, we'll explain these terms and all of those commonly used to describe U.S. poster formats.
Since the mid 1980s, U.S. poster sizes have been relatively standardised, to two formats:
One Sheet - 27 in x 40 in (68.6 cm x 101.6 cm)
This is by far the most common poster format and is used in portrait (i.e., longer side vertical). The majority of posters are released in this size. It has provided standardisation, allowing cinemas and movie theatres to easily change movie posters, whilst retaining the same frames and light-boxes inside and outside their venues.
Since the mid 1980s, one sheet posters are almost invariably rolled, rather than folded.
Subway Poster / Bus Stop - 40 in x 60 in (101.6 cm x 152.4 cm)
As its name suggests, this format is most commonly used for outdoor promotion where a poster will be seen from afar. Again, It is used in portrait.
Whilst we have quoted 40 in x 60 in, they can vary in size by a few inches.
So, just the two formats, that's all very straightforward isn't it?
Well, no, not quite.
The majority of movie posters within our Catalogue were produced prior to the mid 1980s. Back then, things were a little more complicated...
One Sheet - 27 in x 41 in (68.6 cm x 104.0 cm)
The one sheet size was introduced in the early 1900s. At some point in the 1980s (we've researched but be can't be certain why) the length of the one sheet format was reduced by an inch, but for the previous 80 years or so, the format had been forty-one inches long.
Pre mid 1980s, one sheet posters were usually issued folded.
Whether your 'one sheet' poster is forty or forty-one inches long is likely to be the greatest source of a framing mistake. See our warning below!
Half Sheet - 22 in x 28 in (55.9 cm x 71.1 cm)
A smaller format, used in landscape. Some half sheets feature unique artwork that maximise use of the wider format. A great example is the 'Style A' half sheet for the original Star Wars film. It features the Tom Jung artwork that was later re-worked by other artists for the one sheet posters.
Insert - 14 in x 36 in (35.6 cm x 91.4 cm)
A great smaller format used since the early 1900s for display in the lobbies of cinemas / movie theatres. Given the smaller size and portrait format, inserts are great for small walls, or, for display either side of a larger one sheet or quad poster.
Two Sheet - 41 in x 54 in (104.0 cm x 137.0 cm)
Used in either portrait or landscape, the two sheet is twice the size of the one sheet poster.
Three Sheet - 41 in x 81 in (104.0 cm x 206.0 cm)
Three sheet posters were usually provided in two pieces, placed together for display in portrait.
Six Sheet - 81 in x 81 in (206.0 cm x 206.0 cm)
Formed from six one sheets, the six sheet was usually provided in four parts, placed together to form a square poster.
Twenty Four Sheet / Billboard - 246 in x 108 in (625.0 cm x 274 cm)
Formed from twelve sections and used for external billboards in landscape.
30 x 40 - yes, as you guessed, 30 in x 40 in (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm)
Printed in portrait on a heavier card like paper, the more durable paper stock allowed for internal and external use. Usually, fewer 30 x 40 printed. As a result, they can be more sought after by collectors.
40 x 60 - no prizes for guessing, 40 in x 60 in (101.6 cm x 152.4 cm)
Like the 30 x 40, printed on heavier card like paper and used in portrait. The 40 x 60 was also used in cinema lobbies as a floor standing 'standee' poster.
That's a lot of information to take in, so here's a useful table, giving sizes in both centimetres and inches.
A final warning - always measure your poster...
Despite the definition of standard sizes, movie posters do often vary in size. Please always re-measure your poster before ordering a frame. It may save the cost of an unwanted frame, and, protect your poster from being squeezed in to too small a space.
As you can see, U.S. movie posters come in a range of sizes. Movie posters are really versatile pieces of art and a poster can be found to fit most aspects and decors.
In a later blog post, we'll cover the most common poster sizes used by other countries. Coming shortly, U.K. poster sizes.
If you are interesting in U.S. posters, you can use the 'filter by' option in our Catalogue and then choose 'U.S.'. This will filter your view to posters for films released in the U.S., and, films produced there too.
We hope you find something you love.
Adam and the 'Art of the Movies' team