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To collect or not to collect? Favorite rock ‘n’ roll movie posters at a glance

It's hard to say whether posters will become highly collectible, but history doesn’t seem to be on their side.

by Susan Sliwicki

It’s too soon to tell whether posters related to the new Runaways bio-pic starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning will become highly collectible, but history doesn’t seem to be on their side.

“Elvis: The Movie” starring a very believable Kurt Russell in the title role. Just because something is rare doesn’t mean it’s worth big bucks. A one-sheet poster for this movie, which was rare in that as it was available only to ABC television stations to display in conjunction with the movie’s showing, tops the heap at $53. A Czech poster for the movie, which bears the actual image of Elvis, came in at $15, according to the Heritage Auction archives.

Coal Miner’s Daughter” starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn. In fairness, posters for this movie aren’t exactly the picture of landmark graphic design. One showcases a photo of Spacek singing, as Lynn, with a blue background around the image. The other shows a sketch of Spacek as Lynn, clad in overalls. A group of lobby cards aren’t much more exciting. Depending on size and condition, posters for this movie range from $65.73 for a near-mint one-sheet poster to $10 for a VF- one-sheet poster.

“The Doors” starring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison. The Doors may be a popular band, but it looks like fans would rather spend their money on items that feature the real Jim Morrison vs. Val Kilmer’s version. Values for one-sheet posters and banners from the film range between $21 and $50, according to the Heritage Auctions archives.

“The Buddy Holly Story” starring Garey Busey as Buddy Holly. Before Gary Busey was a reality TV punchline, he was an Oscar-nominated actor for his turn as the Lubbock, Texas, rocker Buddy Holly. But just because a movie gets on the Academy Awards ballot doesn’t guarantee collectibility. Prices range from $71.70 for a Near-Mint one-sheet poster to $11 for a pair of VF+ posters, according to the Heritage archives.

Concert or Documentary Films
“Don’t Look Back” featuring Bob Dylan. Sure, you can’t always understand what the man has to say — or sing — but the harmonica-blowing folk hero can probably let his movie posters do a little bit of the talking. A Near-Mint one-sheet poster from this documentary filmed by D.A. Pennebaker pulled in $1,015 at a 2007 auction; at the low end of things, a VF/NM copy sold for just $79 in an Internet auction held in February 2010.

“Last Waltz” starring The Band. OK, you’ve got The Band in its last-ever concert. Martin Scorsese is at the helm as director. Add in a star-studded cast of musicians including Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, a pair of Neils (Young and Diamond), a Beatle (Ringo Starr) and a Stone (Ron Wood). So… how does the poster stack up? You’d probably get more of your money’s worth from buying the DVD, because at least then you can enjoy the performances. Posters and lobby cards for this concert film top out at $63, according to the Heritage archives.

“Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll starring Chuck Berry. The concert movie, which marked Berry’s 60th birthday, captured both the show and the rehearsals that preceded it. Keith Richards, Jerry Lee Lewis Robert Cray, Etta James, Julian Lennon and Eric Clapton are along for the ride. Prices realized at Heritage Auctions ranged from $131.45 for a set of eight lobby cards to $10 for a Venzuelan one-sheet poster.

“The Song Remains The Same” starring Led Zeppelin. This 1976 documentary may not be on your must-watch list, but it does OK with collectors, coming in at $286.80 at the high end for a Near-Mint Minus one-sheet poster on the high end, according to Heritage’s auction archives.

Just Plain Fun
“A Hard Day’s Night” starring The Beatles. Probably, it won’t come as much of a shock to discover that posters and cards from this movie tend to pull in big bucks at auction. A VF+ half-sheet poster sold for $4,481.25 at auction in July 2008, according to the Heritage Auction archives. In fact, just about any movie that featured The Beatles is worth some pretty good coin. Even “A Hard Day’s Night” lobby cards issued by Universal in1982 top the $100 mark, according to the archives. For the most part, though, the older the piece, as in posters that came out in the 1960s and early 1970s vs. the 1980s and later, the higher the prices tend to be.

“Head” starring the Monkees. While the movie is considered by many to have firmly pounded the proverbial nail in The Monkees’ career coffin, posters and lobby cards from the movie have brought from $836.50 for a one-sheet poster to $34 for a pressbook, according to Heritage Auctions.

“Rock and Roll High School” (above) starring The Ramones. Not uber collectible as of late, but if you love The Ramones, you’ll probably want this for your collection. The movie’s recent reissue on DVD may expose a new generation of fans to the exploits at Vince Lombardi High School movie. Prices recorded at Heritage Auctions ranged from $107.55 for a one-sheet poster to “Yellow Submarine,” starring The Beatles. Well, OK, technically it only starred The Beatles’ music and animated likenesses, but you get the picture. Items from this 1968 movie range from $4,780 for a one-sheet poster to $40 for a French novelty poster, according to Heritage Auction results.

“This is Spinal Tap.” Considering that this mockumentary doesn’t feature an actual rock ‘n’ roll band, it’s more collectible than some other music-related movie posters on our list. A one-sheet poster in Mint condition sold for $235. However, a humble VF-condition one-sheet poster brought just $33, according to the Heritage Auctions archives.