Movies plus rock ‘n’ roll won’t always equal collectibility

by Susan Sliwicki

You love movies. You love rock and roll.

So, like the proverbial Reese’s peanut butter cup, two great things should be really great together, right?

Well, maybe. Just like everything else in collecting, it all comes down to the laws of supply and demand.

Beatles-related items tend to bring a pretty penny at auction, and posters from their movies follow that same trend. For instance, a set of four door panel posters for The Beatles’ movie “Help” sold for a whopping $19,120 via Heritage Auction Galleries in 2008. Other top sellers of Beatles movie memorabilia in recent years include a set of eight lobby cards from “Yellow Submarine ($4,182.50); lobby cards from “A Hard Day’s Night” ($3,585); an insert from “Yellow Submarine” ($3,346) and a 24-sheet poster that measures 108” x 232” ($3,107.)

And, then, of course, there is the King of Rock And Roll: Elvis Presley. OK, so some of his movies were not exactly hard-core rock and roll — Elvis as a singing doctor and Mary Tyler Moore as nun in “Change of Habit,” for instance — but he stays true to his nickname with the classic “Jailhouse Rock.” A variety of sizes and shapes of posters released for “Jailhouse Rock” tend to pull in the biggest bucks with collectors, ranging from $4,182.50 at the high end for a six-sheet poster to $51 for a simple Danish poster from the movie, according to the Heritage Archives

But just because an artist has some well-loved records doesn’t mean a related movie is going to bring you the big bucks at auction.

Take, for instance, the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. Both are well respected in the musical world. Heck, the soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever” reads like a Bee Gees greatest hits EP. And who can debate the lasting success of the landmark live album Frampton Comes Alive? Throw in some songs written by The Beatles, and you’ve got box office gold, right?

Nope. Even music written by (but not performed by) The Beatles couldn’t save this 1979 dud. A Fine/Very Fine Polish B1 poster for the movie sold via Heritage Auctions for $44 in February, which is not exactly the investment of choice to ramp up your 401(k) holdings. Over the past five years, different posters from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” have sold at Heritage for anywhere between $10 and $131.45 (including buyer’s premium.)

Mick Jagger is many things to many people. Some of those things can’t be repeated in polite conversation. But whether he’s all that collectible on movie posters seems to be debatable. A one-sheet movie poster for Jagger’s 1970 big-screen vehicle, “Performance,” in which he plays a — typecasting, anybody? — rock and roll star sold for $131.45 at a Heritage event in February 2010. That comes in at about the middle of the pack of the cards and posters related to that movie that have sold in the past five years, according to Heritage’s archives. The high end was a Very Fine Plus British quad poster that brought $448.13, including buyer’s premium. The low end? A Very Fine British double-crown version of the movie poster that brought $44 plus buyer’s premium.

The moral of the story? If you adore a specific group or artist and want to round out a collection with some fun posters of the movies in which they’ve been the subject or stars, great. Go for it. There’s a lot of really cool movie poster art to enjoy. But if you’re expecting to find the mother of all investment opportunities, you probably shouldn’t get too attached to the idea of striking it rich with rock and roll movie posters.

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