US / American Standard Movie Poster Size
Movie posters were printed in a number of different sizes and shapes in the era from 1910 through 1980. The bigger the release for the studio, the larger the number of poster sizes that were produced. From the beginning of the 20th century when movies were just beginning to make an impact on society, the most common format for movie posters was the one sheet. It was named this as this size was the common size of the lithographers press bed, 27" X 41." This was the size that was previously used to print theater posters.
From the One Sheet size originated the terms used to denote the other larger size posters. The Three Sheet (41" X 81") was called this as it was the size of (3) One Sheets placed side by side on their vertical side. The next larger size was the Six Sheet (81" X 81"), and was the size of (3) Three Sheets placed side by side on their vertical sides. And finally, the Twenty-Four Sheet which is the size of a billboard, nine foot by twenty foot, or 106" X 234".
Below is a list of the terms used to describe most of the movie poster sizes that were produced up until just several years ago. All of the sizes below were printed on one side only, other than the Herald, Glass Slide, and the newer double-sided poster.
Lobby Card: (11" X 14") Printed in sets of eight on card stock paper for display in theater lobbies. The Title Lobby Card showed the production credits and poster artwork. The other seven cards were scenes from the film. These cards were usually produced in full color and have become a very desirable collectible.
Jumbo Lobby Card: (14" X 17") Printed prior to 1940, these sets were usually produced for the studio's higher profile releases. Often printed on a linen or glossy stock, with no title card, these cards were produced in far fewer quantities than standard lobby cards, thus, more rare.
Window Card: (14" X 22") Produced on heavy cardboard stock, these were small posters used in shop windows to advertise the upcoming or showing feature film. They all had a blank white imprint area of approximately 4 inches at the top of the card for the theater's name and date of showing. These posters are of a size easy to frame and are attractive to collectors for that reason.
Jumbo Window Card: (22" X 28") These were oversized versions of the standard window card also printed on cardboard stock. These cards were produced in far fewer numbers and, therefore, much more rare.
Midget or Mini Window Card: (8" X 14") Printed primarily before 1940, these were smaller versions of the standard window card with identical artwork. They had the same blank imprint area and were usually used in cigar or candy cases in shops or restaurants. These were printed in much smaller quantities, making them rarer than standard window cards.
Insert: (14" X 36") Printed on card stock paper, these posters were used in conjunction with One Sheets to promote a film. The artwork is usually done in a mix of photographic and artwork style as opposed to the all artwork One Sheet. These cards were often folded in thirds, and are very popular among collectors.
Half Sheet or Display: (22" X 28") Printed on card stock paper, the studios often printed two styles of this size. One style would be identical to the Title Lobby Card. These posters were often a photographic and artwork combination and were displayed in the lobby of the theater. They were pictured in the pressbooks and called “Displays,” whereas the collectors have taken to calling them Half Sheets, as they are half the size of a One Sheet.
One Sheet: (27" X 41") This size is most recognizable as the standard movie poster and the size most popular among collectors. These posters were printed on a thin paper stock and were usually displayed in front of the theater or in the lobby. Almost always implemented by studio hired artists and illustrators, they would give a bold display of title, credits, and outstanding illustrations of star portraits or a graphic depiction of the film's story line. The studios often printed several different styles of posters for one film, among which might include a “Teaser” or “Advance,” to be issued prior to the release of the film to attract potential audience attention. This size became popular in the early 1900s, and remained so until the size was shortened around 1985 to the typical 27" X 40." The One Sheet prior to 1980 was almost always found folded in eighths with one vertical fold and two horizontal folds, and after 1980 were sent to theaters rolled.
Three Sheet: (41" X 81") Printed on a thin paper stock, these posters were intended to normally be posted outside of the theater. They were printed in two or three pieces in which the artwork had to be aligned at the time of display. For the bigger release films there would sometimes be two different style Three Sheets printed. In the early 1970s studios began to produce Three Sheets in one piece and by the early 1980s had phased out the printing of this size poster altogether. The larger posters were printed in far fewer quantities than the one sheet and are more rare than the smaller posters.
Six Sheet: (81" X 81") Printed on thin paper stock in four different pieces, these posters were displayed outdoors as a small billboard. They were to be put together and aligned upon display and often featured artwork altogether different than the other posters. They were named Six Sheets as they are the size of six One Sheets put together. These posters were sent to theaters folded and were often displayed using wallpaper glue, rendering them unusable for future use. These posters were printed in far fewer numbers than almost any of the other posters and due to the display and use, far fewer of these posters have survived. Often, due to the large size, these posters are very impressive works of art.
Twenty-Four Sheet: (246" X 108") These huge posters were produced to be used as billboard art and usually came printed in 12 sections. They were printed on standard paper stock and were usually destroyed after the display of the poster. Very few Twenty-Four sheet posters have survived for any films and almost none for films produced before 1950. These are some of the rarest posters in the hobby and due to the size perhaps just as lacking in collectiblity.
40" X 60": Studios began printing these in the early 1930s on a thin paper stock, this poster is the size the name suggests and was usually rolled when sent to the theater. During the 1930s many of these posters were produced by the Hollywood Sign-Makers Union using a silk-screen process, which was often done in strong, day-glow paints which made for very striking graphics. These craftsmen would often produce as many as ten to twenty paint screens to produce these works of art. The other method for producing these larger size posters during this time was the photo-gelatin process, the same method used to produce 1930s Lobby Cards. These posters were most often photographic and were produced on a thin paper stock which became brittle over time. The silk-screen and photo-gelatin 40" X 60"s are by far the rarest posters to find for any film from the 1930s. By the 1940's, the 40" X 60"s began being produced on a heavy card stock, in off-set lithography and remained so up until their demise in the early 1980s. In the 1960s these posters became just larger copies of the one sheet, which could be put on an easel to display in large areas. 40" X 60" posters were printed in very limited numbers and few survived.
30" X 40": These posters like the 40" X 60" were printed on a card stock and were normally sent rolled to the theaters. This size began to be printed in the 1930's, often instead of a One Sheet, as was the case with Disney Studios, who printed this format instead of One Sheets from 1935 through 1937. This size gained in popularity in the 1950s as theater owners found them more durable than One Sheets as they were almost identical to the later in artwork.
Door Panels: (20" X 60") Tall, vertical panels, printed on thin stock paper and most often sold in sets of four or six for the more prominent feature releases by the studios. They were to be displayed on the doors of the theater and featured their own unique artwork. More often than not, one panel would feature the title of the film and the other panels would be the stars or scenes from the film. These sets were rarely sold to theater owners, presumably due to expense, and consequently are very rare and very collectible.
Subway: (54" X 41") Began printing in the 1960s, they are on standard paper stock. These posters were and are usually used in mass transit station displays. They will often feature a variation on the “Advance” poster art. Sometimes referred to as Two Sheets, they are printed in limited numbers and are very collectible for the earlier titles from the 1960s.
Banner: Posters which come in a variety of sizes ranging from 24" to 30" by 84" to 120." Studios began producing banners in the 1920s and they were painted using gorgeous, full-color silk screen art on canvas or bookbinder's cloth with grommets spaced along the edges. Beginning in the late 1930s the studios began to transition to a card stock material but still silk screening in a mono-tone color scheme and adding a photograph pasted to the banner. Today's banners are printed on vinyl and come in a vast variety of sizes.
Stills: (8" X 10") or (11" X 14"). Black and White glossy stills printed on photo paper have been around since the beginning. They were commonly sent to the press to promote the release of a film. The stills would usually have descriptive information typed on paper and pasted or stapled to the back. In the early 1930s, the film's title was often displayed in the lower border of the still along with credits. In the early 1950s several studios began releasing a set of (12) color stills from a film with the title in the lower border. These sets of color glossy stills are very rarely found in full sets and very desirable.
Heralds: These were small paper flyers that varied in size from 5" X 7" to 6" X 9", and were printed on both sides. They might be just a single page or a fold-over of several pages. They were sold via the press book and bought in groups of thousands by theater owners to give away all over town in advance of the film's opening. The theater and dates of the showing were usually printed on them by local printers. They were printed as early as the 1910s up to the early 1980s. As they were commonly given to the public, they do not hold much collectible value unless they feature some of the rarer titles from the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, such as Universal horror films.
Glass Slides: (3,5" X 4") Distributed from the early silent period up through the ‘40s, they were to be used just as a transparency slide is used today, except made of glass and used in the film projector. They advertised the upcoming feature and local businesses. Often they provided a blank area to write the play-date. Though they held little value in the past, they have come to be more widely collected of late, especially for the bigger titles of the day.
Programs: Multi-page, hardbound or paperback booklets filled with scenes from film and much background information on production. These were created for major movie releases and sold in lobbies of first run movie theatres.
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