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Mad Max Australian Movie Posters – Original or Reissue?

By on August 20, 2013
MAD MAX Australian Movie Posters

There has been some confusion over the originality of Mad Max Australian movie posters. Over the years, many Mad Max posters that have been described and sold as original, are actually reissues or reprints.

 MAD MAX Original Daybill Movie posterThis guide is intended to shed some light on how the original Mad Max Australian movie posters were released. Information on Mad Max 2 and Beyond Thunderdome will follow in future guides.

Firstly it is important to be aware that some of the information that is available will be anecdotal although I have sought input from at least one very knowledgable and passionate collector who has taken great pains to seek out the most definitive detail on how these posters were released.

Mad Max 1979

My understanding of the chronology of the release of Mad Mad Max Australian movie posters is the following:

Mad Max was filmed on a very tight, low budget. It was not envisaged that it would be a blockbuster and the original advertising was based on a limited release in Australia.

In 1979, daybills and one sheets were released with a purple/mauve background and a matt finish. The daybills were not glossy and measured 13.5 inches by 30 inches.


Mad Max Orange Australian One sheets

Another one sheet was also printed for the original release using exactly the same artwork but with an orange background rather than the purple/mauve background. There is nothing definitive about why the different colour was used although there are several theories and educated guesses and differing views about whether the orange one sheets came before or after the purple/mauve one sheets.

One collector feels that the orange came first.

His reasoning is that there was an issue with the printing of the matte finish orange background one sheets. There are many examples of Australian posters that used different coloured backgrounds. It is likely that the printers would occasionally experiment with various colours to get the best result.

A print run would have been limited to 100-150 one sheets and it is thought that there was a colour variance, possibly towards the end of the run, where the orange became yellow. This does sound like a logical scenario and is the likely reason why so few one sheets and no daybills were printed in this style.

A one sheet turned up recently that is a good example of the colour variance. The lettering is yellow and the background predominantly yellow with just a touch of orange. The poster has not had any fading at all and the colours are bright and clear.

Mad Max Australian One Sheet Movie Poster

The thought is that, after discovering the printing variances, the printers moved to the purple/mauve printing. 

This theory is reinforced by the fact that daybills were not printed in the orange format. However, another collector feels that the purple/mauve came first followed by the orange.

The sequence is probably academic because they were all certainly printed for the original release

The orange/yellow one sheets are considered by many as the rarest and most sought after of all Mad Max posters.

Australian Lobby Cards for Mad Max

An 11″ x 14″ lobby card set was also produced for the original release. Australian Lobby Cards for Mad Max are now very hard to find.

Mad Max Australian Movie Posters

The film achieved a fairly quick popularity and cult status and the supply of posters was quickly exhausted.

Mad Max at the Drive Ins

Mad Max continued its highly successful run late into 1979 and opened in Drive Ins where it had great appeal. This prompted another order of one sheets and daybills after the supply of one sheets was exhausted, this time in a blue matte finish with the daybills now measuring 13.25 x 28 inches.

Mad Max 1982 release

Moving forward to approximately May 1982 and Mad Max 2 has been enjoying a very successful run at Australian cinemas and Drive-Ins. This prompted a re-release of the original Mad Max Australian movie posters. The film would be shown either by itself or as a double feature along with Mad Max 2.

The re-release of the film resulted in another order for the original style daybills and one-sheets – exactly the same artwork as the original but this time with a “gloss” finish. It is probable that the same plates as the originals were used for the printing of these posters. The 1982 reissue one sheets are the same size as their predeccessors however the daybills are again much smaller measuring only 13.5 x 27 inches.

Some dealers may have unwittingly have passed the “gloss” versions off as being from the original release. It is unlikely that they are trying to be deliberately deceptive. The fact is that there has been very little information available up until recently.

Mad Max Australian Photo Sheet

Also in 1982, Roadshow ordered a print run on the (then very popular with exhibitors) photo-sheets. Fortunately, it was easy to tell that the photo sheets had been released a couple of years after the original release of Mad Max. Note the tagline:

“You’ve seen Mad Max 2 ……….  Now see the Whole Story!”

Mad Max Australian Movie Posters

The photo sheets were probably printed through M.A.P.S but none seem to have printer details on them.  Although the Mad Max photo sheets were printed in 1982, they are now extremely scarce and highly sought after.

New Zealand

MAD MAX BLUE NZI acquired a few Mad Max daybills many years ago from a regional cinema in New Zealand. These had the familiar New Zealand censor sticker (see my guide on New Zealand posters) and the M.A.P.S printers details at the base of the poster. The owner assured me that these posters were supplied to him for the original release in New Zealand at his cinema. The daybills are the blue gloss version and it is possible that the release of Mad Max in New Zealand in some areas might have been delayed until 1982 – hence the use of the glossy blue daybills. Australian daybills were supplied to New Zealand distributors along with US one sheets and British one sheets.

Note: New Zealand censor sticker and printers details lower right


Various Others

A one sheet in the glossy blue version has been seen fairly regularly in recent times on eBay and some dealer sites. It is often described as original but has no printers details at the bottom of the poster. One collector has questioned the authenticity of these posters and refers to them as “restrikes”. I have contacted the dealer who had multiple copies of these and he has said that he acquired these some years ago from someone within the industry. It would be safe to assume that these posters are not original based on the preceeding information but it is uncertain as to whether they are from the 1982 reissue or restrikes. One important point to note is that I have seen some variations with Australian posters over the years including some posters that were printed without printers details whilst others had the name of the printer at the bottom of the poster – in the case of Mad Max the printer is M.A.P.S.

So What should You be Looking For in Mad Max Australian movie posters

The three different colour styles Country of Origin daybills or one sheets with the matte finish should be the most desirable Mad Max Australian movie posters. The orange / yellow one sheet may be the rarest of the three.  

If you have any additional information that you think may be relevant please let me know. As I have said some of the information contained in this guide is anecdotal and I always welcome new input. 


About John Reid

One Comment

  1. John

    March 15, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    I have a Mad Max poster.
    Don’t know much about it, was wondering if you knew much about this 1 sheet style

    Thank you

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