Auctions | March 28, 2019

"Wizard of Oz" Half Sheet Leads Heritage Auctions' Movie Posters Auction Above $2 Million

Dallas, TX - Numerous collectors drove the final result for a The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939) Half Sheet Style A to $108,000, well beyond its high pre-auction estimate, to help lead Heritage Auctions’ Movie Posters auction beyond the $2 million plateau. The sale, held March 23-24 in Dallas, realized a final total of $2,037,626, and boasted sell-through rates of 98.7 percent by value and 97.1 percent by lots sold.

The top lot is one of seven posters in the sale commemorating the legendary musical fantasy film that was produced on a total budget of approximately $2.7 million (in Depression-era dollars), but earned just over $3 million at the box office - a paltry return on the investment. It wasn’t until it was shown on television in 1956 that the film enjoyed renewed popularity and became one of the most popular films of all time and, not coincidentally, became one of the most collected titles in the movie posters collecting hobby.

“The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic that has become a beloved tradition for generations of fans,” Heritage Auctions Vintage Posters Director Grey Smith said. “The rarity and exceptional condition of this half sheet, from one of the most popular films ever made, make it a potential centerpiece for any serious collection.”

The Wolf Man (Universal, 1941) Insert is another that sparked enough eager bidding to drive the final result to well beyond the pre-auction estimates, finishing at $96,000. Because of financial troubles, there was talk during the 1940s that Universal Studios might cease making horror films - a temptation that was resisted upon the realization that horror films were the only ones sure to turn a profit. The classic depicted on this insert, one of the rarest posters made to promote the film, effectively revived the studio’s horror cycle for another decade and made star Lon Chaney, Jr., into the studio’s new star.

More than a dozen collectors made bids for The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal, 1935) Insert until it brought $90,000. The film shines a spotlight on a film considered among the most important ever made in the horror genre, despite the fact that director James Whale initially had no interest in directing the sequel to his 1931 classic, Frankenstein. Despite his dismissive approach to the film, which included layers of dark comedy, it enjoyed enormous success and popularity with audiences, opened to rave reviews and was heralded as Whale’s “second masterpiece.” This insert is one of the most desirable posters in Universal’s horror franchise, and one of very few copies known to remain in existence.

Casablanca (Warner Brothers, 1942) Original Set Continuity Photos nearly doubled its high pre-auction estimate when it drew a final sale price of $55,200. The film is revered among fans as one of the best ever made, and features legendary stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Set continuity photos like these ensure that audiences remain focused on the action and plot, rather than on misplaced props, and allow the crew to reset for multiple takes significantly easier. Scenes found within this album include Rick’s Café, the Blue Parrot, Rick’s office and the café in Paris, as well as exterior shots of the marketplace in Casablanca, the train station in Lyon and the Palais de Justice.

An exceedingly rare Nosferatu (PranaFilm, 1921) German Magazine Promotional Ad soared past pre-auction estimates when more than a dozen collectors made bids, before ultimately selling for $52,800. When director F.W. Murnau chose to make a film version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula nine years after the author’s death, he did not consider that Stoker’s widow owned the rights to his works and relied on them as her lone source of income. So when Murnau made Nosferatu (based on Dracula) without her permission, she sued him for all copies of the film, most of which she destroyed. After barely getting released in 1922, it reemerged in 1930 with a new title, The Twelfth Hour, and even featured characters who had been renamed as part of the effort to hide the film from Stoker’s attorneys. Original posters and advertising material of any kind for the film are virtually impossible to find, explaining the demand for this German rarity.

Other top lots included, but were not limited to:

·         $45,600: Red Headed Woman (MGM, 1932) One Sheet Style C

·         $38,400: The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal, 1935) Window Card

·         $33,600: Adventures of Captain Marvel (Republic, 1941) One Sheet - Chapter 1: “Curse of the Scorpion”

·         $28,800: The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939) Half Sheet Style B

·         $26,400: The Wizard of Oz (CIA, 1948) First Post-War Release Italian 2 - Fogli Carlantonio Longi Artwork