Die-hard fans of good cinema have always tried to collect as much material related to their favorite films as possible. In the last 12 months, however, the average value of individual items has gone up exponentially. That means what collectors used to pay relatively low fees for now expect to go for huge amounts of money.
Ironically, some of the pieces that people want the most were among the most worthless in the fast. These were treated as ephemeral by fans at the time, which limited their original appeal. As a result, they’ve gone on to reap in huge profits for those who were wise enough to hold onto them for many years.
Individuals Profiting from Cinematic Nostalgia
Perhaps one of the biggest things driving the nostalgia market at the moment is the fact that sequels and remakes are generating a ton of buzz about the originals that these new releases are based on. For instance, the release of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie may not have been warmly received by some, but it did enough to let fans who held onto their old Nintendo games fetch around $200 for each copy of TMNT Tournament Fighter they still had on hand.
When thinking of things to make and sell dealers from sites such as Shopify sometimes try and jump on board with whatever trends there are as a result of recent film releases. Some people have gone so far as to knit custom material or even make beaded kandi-style raver jewelry that celebrates the release of certain films.
A few people have scoured their cabinets and closets to find some remarkable pieces of history. Movie posters are often destroyed after being returned to the studio, so something someone grabbed years ago from a local theater could be worth a substantial amount of money today. An original of the 1932 Universal Mummy film could literally fetch millions, and those of Rudolph Valentino’s pictures also have legions of devoted fans willing to pay quite a bit for them.
Others have instead decided to forego the individual market and instead focus on movie props and other authentic memorabilia, which are quickly appreciating in value as well.
The Wild World of Movie Props
Quite a few movie prop auctions have been genuinely ridiculous in terms of how much certain collectors have been willing to pay for things. For instance, the Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in the 1964 007 hit Goldfinger went for over $6.4 million at auction.
It’s doubtful that anyone would ever want to drive it at that price, but it would certainly be the talk of anyone’s showroom. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with the armored screens that Bond uses in the movie.
Judy Garland’s ruby slippers and the original Maltese Falcon sculpture have both caught the eyes of collectors and brought home substantial amounts of money as well, so it’s likely that fans of classic movies and television will be keeping their eyes out for anything that might prove attractive on the open market.
Costumes & Set Pieces Drive Collectors Wild
While Wizard of Oz memorabilia has always been really popular with collectors in general, there’s a few other reasons that Judy Garland’s ruby slippers got so much attention from people outside of the usual fandom. That’s because costumes and set pieces are consistently popular collectibles that bring people to table time and time again.
Bert Lahr, the actor that played the Cowardly Lion, also attracted his share of attention over the years. When MGM put together his original costume, they did something that nobody would ever do today and used the hides of actual lions. This made the costume weigh nearly 60 pounds, and it also helped to attract enough bidders to drive the price up to $3 million when it went to an open auction.
Whether you’re looking at on-premise auctions held with a traditional auctioneer or restricting yourself to online eCommerce sites, you’re likely to find that these two categories are what really get people to open their wallets. Considering that they’re often the most memorable parts of the films we love, it makes sense that collectors pay so much special attention to them.
Take, for instance, the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. Robby the Robot is easily the most remembered part of that film, and the original seven-foot tall costume is every bit as impressive on screen as it is in person. That might explain why someone at Bonham’s Auction House in New York City paid literally $5.3 million for it back in 2017. The bidder, who has asked to remain anonymous, also got the robot’s utility vehicle from the movie as well as the original packing crates MGM used to move all this gear.
Even smaller costumes and set collections fetch decent payouts, in part because of how closely these are tied to the nostalgia factor of the movies they represent. In 2012, a lucky fan of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory bought Gene Wilder’s whimsical periwinkle outfit for nearly $74,000 just to add it to his personal collection. Once again, he asked to remain anonymous considering the possibility that another motion picture buff might eventually want to get their hands on this tangible piece of history.
Ironically, that’s not the only big seller from the movie. An Everlasting Gobstopper used in the film by Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in the 1971 original, sold for over $40,000. This matches an earlier sale of the only other remaining one from the film known to still be in existence.
Markets will Continue to Adjust in the Future
Considering that many of today’s films have attracted just as big a following and that nostalgia is a powerful force, it’s not hard to believe that journalists in the near future will be writing the same thing about some movies that are currently in theaters today. While new films might rely more heavily on technological wizardry and computer generated graphics, there’s no reason that collectors of the future won’t still be able to find some equally beloved pieces of movie history.