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Movie Poster Description

Movie Poster Terminology & Definition:

1 Sheet or One-Sheet

The 1 sheet or one-sheet movie poster is a specific promotional marketing material that summarizes the general idea of a particular movie. Prior to 1985, the 1 sheet measured 27" x 41" and had a border. During the mid 1980s, the one-sheet was downsized to measure 27" x 40", and without the border However, a few filmmakers will still issue 27" x 41" posters to promote their movies.

Before 1985, studio suppliers shipped most posters folded to the cinemas. That all changed in the mid 1980s, when most posters were sent rolled to the cinemas.

Today, most one-sheets are double-sided with the same artwork on the back. These posters are printed on thicker paper than the single-sided posters. Because of the reverse printing, and the thicker paper, double-sided posters give a 3D effect when displayed in a lightbox. Of the original movie marketing material, the one-sheet is the most prized among collectors.

Advance One-Sheets:

Like the name suggests, these posters are issued, to theatres and distributors, far in advance of a movie's anticipated release date. They are meant to garner excitement and interest in the movie without giving anyway too much (if any) of the plot. Some advance posters may have a tagline that is meant to entice you and set the tone for the movie. Big budget films may release an initial advance teaser, which have no credits or even the name of movie. They may also choose to release a series of advance posters with each giving a little more information about the movie. The filmmakers may also release a series of character advance posters depicting the lead characters. Smaller budget films, will issue a combination regular and advance poster in one. These posters will contain the credits and the date together.

Whichever way the filmmakers choose to deliver the message, advance posters are meant to get us excited in advance of the anticipated movie.

International vs. US Advance One-Sheets:

International advance posters will often have different artwork from the US versions and will have the words: "Coming Soon" and "Cinema" somewhere on the poster. By contrast the US advance posters will say, "In Theaters" followed by the date, "In Theaters This Christmas" or in In Theaters This Summer" and so on. The US posters will also have, in the bottom corner, the words "Advance", "Teaser", or the abbreviation "Adv. International posters do not carry a rating on them.

Regular One-Sheets:

The regular one-sheet is issued upon the release of the movie. These posters will carry the full credits and sometimes the release date as well.

Poster Styles:

You may notice that some big budget movies will have several poster styles with different images. The different artwork is meant to represent the various elements within the movie in the hopes of appealing to the differing tastes of the  movie-going audience. Most movie studios will release two poster styles and to differentiate them they are marked as: Style A and Style B. However, for big budget movie with a wide audience appeal, studios will release many different styles marked as: Style A, Style B, Style C, Style D, Style E, Style F and so on (as was the case with the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).


The studios have used the mini-sheet as an advertising supplement since the mid 1980s. These posters come in a variety of sizes ranging from 11" x 17", 13" x 20", 16 12" x 25 1/2 and so on. In most instances, the mini-sheet will look identical to the larger one-sheet.

Although you might find it displayed in the cinema, the mini-sheet is widely used as a promotional giveaway. For example, they are given away at Comic Con to promote the upcoming movies. Because they are heavily used as promotional giveaways, the mini-sheet is printed in very large quantities in comparison to the one-sheet. Depending on the studio, some mini-sheets are double-sided.

Re-release/Reissue Posters:

These are not illegal reprints. Re-release or re-issue posters are issued by the studios to promote the re-release of a movie years after its first showing. Re-release posters will have different artwork than the first release posters. Although collectors consider the first release posters as being more valuable, these posters are considered originals and still very collectible.

Video Posters:

Studios issue these posters, to video stores, as marketing material to promote the DVD of Blu-ray release of the movie (in the 80s and 90s it would promote video cassettes). When the studios first issued videos for rental or purchase, they used the theatrical release posters to market the video release. The studios would place a tagline on the theatrical poster to specify that it is being used to market the movie's video release. As the video market grew in popularity, the studios began to create posters, with different artwork from the theatrical posters, specifically for this market. There will always be a tagline somewhere on the poster indicating that it is being used to market the video release of a particular movie.

To market the video release of some movies, the studios will sometimes create two-sided posters with each side representing a different movie. However, video posters are usually always single-sided.

British Quad:

The British Quad is a 30 x 40 landscape format poster that is exclusive to the UK. These posters used to be issued folded to the cinemas but now they are issued rolled.


The Daybill is a type of Australian poster that measures 13 x 30 (portrait format). Australian daybills used to be issued tri-folded but now they are rolled. These posters are highly sought after (and extremely rare) because of the unique, superior artwork.

Australian One-Sheets:

These posters measure 27 x 40 (were never 27 x 41) and used to be issued folded and now they are issued rolled.

Mylar Posters:

Like lenticular posters, mylar posters are very expensive to produce and are printed in limited quantities. They are printed on a sheet of mylar plastic which is coated in either gold or silver paint. The artist then paints the artwork over the metallic paint leaving holes, so that the metallic base paint will be visible. The Charlie's Angel mylar poster is a spectacular example of this process.

Lenticular Posters:

Lenticular posters are very expensive to produce and are printed in very limited numbers using a specialized printing process. The result of this specialized print process is a poster that gives an illusion of movement when you move from side to side or when you move the poster. The Final Destination is an example of a lenticular poster where the viewer must move from side to side to see the image change.

Lenticular posters printed on transparent paper require light in order for you to observe the image as it changes.

These posters look spectacular in any light.

Wild Posting:

Also known as wilding posters, these posters are meant to be pasted on construction sites and bust stops. They come in various sizes and feature the same or different artwork from the one-sheet. Because they are displayed outdoors, wilding posters are very vulnerable to the elements. As a result, they are destroyed or new posters are pasted over them. Because so few survive, wildings can be rare and very collectible.


Banners are printed on either vinyl or canvas in very limited numbers. They come in a variety of sizes measuring approximately 3ft. to 4ft. wide and 8ft. to 12ft. long. They can be horizontal or vertical and because they are weather resistant they can be used outdoors or indoors. Methods for hanging range from either reinforced holes, hanging bar, velcro or adhesive backing. Studios release these advertising material as either advance or regular posters. They can feature very basic to highly intricate artwork. Some banners are double-sided.

Recreation Posters:

In November 2000, AFI, the major Hollywood movie studios and S2 Art collaborated to recreate the American Film Institute (AFI) top 100 movie posters of all time. They call these fine art lithographic posters, "Art of the Movies." The limited edition movie art is recreated using the same vintage 19th century printing presses that were used to create the posters over 100 years ago. To date, there are only 5 of these printing presses left in existence. The process involves using hand-drawn plates to pull one colour at a time. The result is a genuine fine art lithograph that looks exactly like the original vintage posters. They are then hand-numbered and bear the embossed S2 label across the bottom.

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