By David A. Lieberman, written for Ebay Guides
There is a good reason why this is the NUMBER ONE RANKED GUIDE in the Movie Memorabilia category on eBay. People are sick and tired of getting ripped off by shady dealers!
Every major professional movie poster dealer and knowledgeable long time collector knows that there are FAKE movie posters all over Ebay. These are illegally printed non licensed reproductions made with the intent to deceive novice buyers. They are NOT ORIGINAL MOVIE POSTERS and have little if any value. They are from very popular movies (the "good titles", the ones everyone wants).
Some of these bootlegs have been around SINCE THE LATE 1980'S.....FOR OVER 20 YEARS! They are very good quality fakes and often fool some experienced dealers and collectors. Some of the ones you see are from sellers who honestly don't know they are not original, BUT THERE ARE A FEW BAD GUYS who know exactly what they have! They have been selling them to newbies (new, non experienced collectors) for years on ebay and at collector shows. They have an endless supply of these reproductions. Their ebay feedback is great because buyers do not know they have been ripped off (until it is too late). These con artists also sell a lot of authentic material, but a good portion of their sales are of bootleg/fake posters. There is no way for anyone to prove they are fake, so they will be able to continue selling them. There are no "poster police" and the major studios really do not care. If you ask any reputable poster dealer or poster expert that has had the opportunity to closely examine them, they will tell you these are not original movie posters.
These bozos have even gone as far as setting up a SCAM website with a phony "Professor Powers" to help sell their fakes. The "Professor" claims to be a former NSS employee with inside knowledge about movie posters. The "Professor" is not a real person. He is actually a dishonest dealer from Rochester N.Y. with a pathetic looking fake beard and wig. The scam website was built by 2 shady dealers from Rochester (Tom and Ed) with the help of another dishonest dealer in Oklahoma (Rick). It is full of ridiculous lies and misinformation.
THIS INFORMATION CAN ALSO BE FOUND IN THE NEW STAR WARS POSTER BOOK PUBLISHED IN 2005 BY LUCASFILM.
On page 289 of this book, it goes into detail describing exactly what is said below. There ARE bootlegs of Star Wars posters! Don't let any dishonest seller try and tell you otherwise. These bootlegs are of exceptional quality, and to the untrained eye can easily appear authentic. The reason they appear so real is because they were printed from the same plates as the originals, only it was done over 10 years later in the late 1980's! There are very subtle differences, you have to know what to look for or you can easily be fooled.
Look out for "lightly folded" Star Wars style A, B, and C full size 27"x41" one sheets. These are the most counterfeited movie posters in history! To make them appear "theater used", the bad guys have started to fold them because they were having trouble selling them rolled. It makes them appear more authentic if they are folded. Sometimes after they fold them they put pin holes in them and even go as far as getting them linen backed! The style A bootleg will have a small hair on Luke's belt, the style B bootleg will be missing the GAU logo, and the Style C bootleg will have a small hair on Leia's back. If you ask the few unscrupulous dealers who have an endless supply of these (they have been selling them non stop on Ebay since the late 90's) they will try to convince you that they are just a "printing variation" that is common with all movie posters. This is a blatant lie, but to an uninformed new collector it sounds like a reasonable excuse. None of these fakes has EVER come from a theater and none were EVER printed for theater use. These are UNAUTHORIZED RESTRIKES!! (see below). They have been around since the late 80's and they are of excellent quality. These fakes were first documented in The Tomarts' Price Guide to Worldwide Star Wars Collectibles.....back in 1997!!! They are also documented in the new 2005 Star Wars Poster Book. These books are authorized by Lucasfilm. The author is Steve Sansweet who is THE Star Wars collectibles expert and is employed by Lucasfilm. Anyone who tries to convince you that these are authentic original one sheets is just flat out lying to you. They normally sell these fakes for about $100.00. Authentic original ones will typically sell for many hundreds of dollars and sometimes well over $1000.00.
There are also fake "minty white" 14"x36" insert movie posters for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi (see below).
These bootlegs are now about 20 years old! Some can even look aged/old like an original. There are many thousands in circulation.
Also be wary of Revenge of the Jedi one sheets. These were bootlegged within a few months of the posters initial release/recall back in 1982!! The fakes are now 25 years old, just like the originals!! There are at least 3 different kinds of bootlegs of this one!!
Pulp Fiction etc.
Beware of Pulp Fiction recalled advance one sheets. Real ones are extremely scarce and can sell for over $1000.00. The bad guys had a rubber "PROPERTY OF MIRAMAX FILMS" stamp made and take the common $8.99 reproduction poster and stamp the back of it to make it appear authentic. Real Pulp Fiction advances do not have this stamp. Miramax has NEVER stamped any of their posters!! There are also some other differences between the fake and original (this info. can be found elsewhere). LOOK OUT! The thieves in Rochester have also started selling them for "Buy it Now" $75.00. Sometimes with the ridiculous stamp, sometimes without it.
Also be wary of rolled or lightly folded full size 27"x41" Scarface (regular style U.S.) one sheets. These are some of the best bootlegs out there! These are extremely difficult to spot.
Beware of Friday the 13th one sheets that measure 27"x40" and not a full 27"x41". They are restrikes from the early 1990's.
Beware of Raiders of the Lost Ark one sheets that measure 27"x40" and not a full 27"x41". They are restrikes from the early 1990's.
Beware of Manhattan style B "Bridge" rolled one sheets. They measure a full 27"x41" but most you will find are restrikes.
Beware of FOLDED fake TAXI DRIVER one sheets. These thieves are buying a cheap $10.00 reproduction poster, folding it, and then selling it for $170.00 or more.
What is a Restrike?
A RESTRIKE IS NOT AN ORIGINAL MOVIE POSTER!! They were NOT printed for theater use. They are posters that were printed (usually from the original plates) well after the films release. Usually MANY years after. Sometimes they were authorized by the studio, sometimes they weren't. They were sold to dealers in bulk and also directly to collectors through mail order ads. Sometimes it is very hard to determine whether a poster is an original or a restrike.
Double Sided Bootlegs!
Look out for double sided reproduction/fake one sheets of some current titles including:
Spiderman (recalled Twin Towers style), The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Star Wars Phantom Menace Episode 1 Teaser.
Yes, there ARE double sided bootlegs out there!! These are of exceptional quality and come from Europe.
"Minty White" Counterfeit 14"x36" Inserts
Beware of "minty white" (like they were printed yesterday) 14"x36" inserts. There are roughly a few dozen popular titles from the 70's and early 80's that have fake bootleg inserts. Some of the titles include Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Raiders of the Lost Ark, A Clockwork Orange, Alien, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Scarface, etc.. These minty whites are constantly available from the same sellers for about $70.00 to $100.00. If you question them they claim they are part of a "warehouse find". The truth is that some unscrupulous dealers from Rochester N.Y. and Oklahoma got together some years ago and illegally printed thousands of them. They have been flooding the market with them ever since. If you buy one and compare it side by side with a known original, you will have no doubt it is not real. In addition to being minty white, there are other factors like paper and print quality that prove they are fake.
UPDATE: Minty Whites That Aren't Minty White Anymore!!
In June 2007 we acquired a Jaws insert that looked and felt right. It was not "minty white", was not glossy on both sides, and the printing was fantastic. We listed it as an original, we had no reason to believe it wasn't. We have handled a TON of fake/repro inserts....so we know what to look for. This one completely fooled US!! It was originally acquired about 6-7 years ago on ebay from a known fake/repro seller in Oklahoma. The paper has aged!! It does NOT look new anymore!! Someone brought it to our attention and after a little investigating we found out where it originated from. It is certainly not from the original release in 1975, we believe it is a restrike from the 1980's. These things are DANGEROUS!!! and as time goes by they are going to look more and more real and fool more and more people. They are ruining the hobby for new collectors. BEWARE!!!
"Minty White" Counterfeit 11"x14" Lobby Card Sets
Beware of "minty white" lobby card sets from popular titles from the 70's and 80's (see list above). These are very easy for the bootleggers to reproduce because of their small size. Believe it or not, they have even started printing sets that have never before existed! A good example of this is the U.S. "Halloween" lobby card set. There were NO U.S. lobby cards produced for this movie, so someone in Rochester, N.Y. decided to make their own!!
Please note: This guide has not mentioned every title that there are fake posters for! There are plenty of others that are not listed here. Also, just because a poster appears new and minty white does not mean it is a fake. There are plenty of older posters that have survived in this condition.
Since many of these bootlegs have been around now for quite a few years, some are now starting to be sold again on ebay from the original duped buyers. They honestly don't know they have fake posters and they are inadvertently ripping off new buyers!
Who are the ones selling these fakes?
We can't say here (and please don't email us asking who they are). All we can say is beware of certain dealers. With a little detective work outside of Ebay you can easily find out exactly who they are. There are movie poster forums, movie poster chat rooms, and other places that discuss everything about movie posters and you can find the answers there.
Where do they come from?
As we said above, many of the fakes come from Rochester N.Y. and from Oklahoma.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.