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PROFILE OF A MOVIE POSTER COLLECTOR: Brian Arnold

By on January 26, 2013

This is the first in a series of articles that will focus on some of the well known Movie Poster Collectors in Australia.  In this article we feature Brian Arnold. 

In each of the articles, I will send a list of questions to the collectors and let the them tell their stories in their own words. Brian has an impressive collection and he has done a lot to promote the virtues of Australian Movie Posters.

You moved to Australia from Texas in the early 90s and very soon became involved in the Cinema.

BRIAN ARNOLD PHOTOYes, I purchased and restored The Blackall Cinema in outback Queensland. The Blackall Cinema was built in 1956 using the structure from an American aircraft hanger. Supposedly it was designed and constructed to withstand aerial bombings.

My wife and I bought the cinema from the local council in 1994 for $5,000. We spent around $80,000 which included equipment to refurbish it and we converted the projection and “crying room” into a 2 bedroom flat. So we lived in the cinema for around 2 years!

I learned how to be a projectionist after one weekend of training and started with a 1950s Kaylee 35mm projector but then replaced it with a 1980s Italian Pion 35mm projector. I have operated projectors from the turn of the century as well.

After the second year of operation we added decks out the front and an Ice Creamery. We also established, in partnership with the Australian Government, the first internet cafe in rural/isolated Australia. FYI, the Blackall Cinema took the place of the Lyceum which had operated across the street since the early 1900s. The Lyceum was an open-air cinema and closed due to fire damage.

THUNDER IN THE SUNWhat motivated you to become a Movie Poster Collector?

I have always loved going to the movies but after I purchased the Blackall Cinema I became immersed in the atmosphere, the projectors, old seats, the architecture and ultimately the movie posters.

There were movie posters left in the cinema that had been acquired by the local historical society. They kept some then sold the rest to the community for $5 each. I bought some then and soon became a Movie Poster Collector! I started with ebay back in 1997.

What was the first poster you acquired and do you still have it?

Thunder in the Sun which is a Richardson Studio and yes, I still have it

Is it fair to say that you would have the largest collection of original Australian Richardson Studio posters?

Australian DaybillI am not sure if I do. Movie Poster Collector, Bruno Pomie in France has a large collection of Australian posters too and he has many Richardson Studio Australian Daybills.

Why did you choose to specialise in Richardson Studio?

The artwork on Richardson Studio movie posters is very special! Often the version Richardson created was far better than any other. The colours are so rich and the way the artwork is laid out is very striking.

Do you also collect on other genres?

In the beginning I collected by title but now most of my Richardson Studio daybills in my collection seem to be crime/noir titles but I don’t really collect by genre or title anymore. I mostly collect for artwork!!

Australian DaybillI also collect Quentin Tarantino. I probably have one of the better collections of memorabilia outside of the USA. I started to collect Tarantino items in 1997 so I found some really cool items including endorsed paychecks, signed movie posters and contracts. I bought a bunch of items from the estate of his first manager as well.

What are some of the other genres that interest to you and why did you choose them?

As stated above, I primarily collect based on artwork not genre or title. I think artwork from an investment point will stand the test of time.

How difficult is it to find posters for your collection?

Very difficult. Now, people hold on to Richardson Studio daybills.

What is missing from your collection that you would love to obtain?

I have most of the Richardson Studio daybills I have wanted or am aware of, it’s the ones I haven’t seen or don’t know exist from the 1940s. One Richardson title I would like is the Accused from 1949.

Do you ever get to a point when you feel that your collection is complete?

No!

Do you prefer to collect Australian posters? If so, why?

Yes, because the artwork (Richardson Studio) is the best in the world! Australian movie Richardson Studio Daybillposters are far more rare too! That is becoming far more evident internationally with a recent auction of James Bond Australian movie posters. Some titles were going for way more than the USA version!

When you come across a collection of posters how do you value them so that you can make an offer?

As an example If there are 100 posters I will calculate an average retail price then halve it if I really want them, less if I don’t. So if the 100 posters are worth on average $50 each I would offer $2500 at most but there are so many factors where I would pay less or a lot more.

Do you trade with other Movie Poster Collectors?

Not very often but I am happy to consider anything.

Are there any other collections that would rival yours?

I know of at least 5 serious collectors of Australian movie posters and all of them probably have better collections than mine. But who knows? Very few collectors will reveal what they really have. Why that is the case I don’t know. I am always willing to share knowledge.

Richardson Studio DaybillHave you been able to pick up some bargains at local auctions or markets?

Not very often. Most of the potential “finds” seem to be down south and there are several collectors that have that region covered.

Are any of the posters in your collection on display ie framed in your home?

Yes, I have a large framed French Planet of the Apes and several daybills (minor titles). The Australian sun fades posters fast.

Your collection is large. How do you keep track of it all?

I really don’t keep track. I created a spreadsheet once but haven’t kept it up to date.

Have you ever missed out on getting something that you later regretted?

No, usually I am the mugg that will pay the most:-) But I did miss out on some Charlie Chan long daybills once just didn’t have the money at the time.

Is there one favourite movie poster in your collection?

Danger Street, Richardson Studio Australian daybill 1947

Do you think movie posters are a good investment?

Yes and no. Are they increasing in value? Some titles and genres are increasing but Australian movie posters aren’t appreciated as much as other countries yet. But as stated above the rarity is starting to become know internationally with the recent James Bond sales. I think artwork will become the predominant reason people will collect movie posters in the future. The appreciation of the movie will be set aside as the years go by.

One thing I do know. Other collectors and sellers shouldn’t criticise other collectors or sellers for putting what is perceived to be a high price on an Australian movie poster for sale. From what I have seen, a poster with a high price on it is often very rare/unique and the price is justified but collectors still think they should get it for $75. While I have spoken of the need for further recognition/awareness from the international movie poster collecting community Australian movie poster prices and their profile have been lifted a great deal in just the last 10 years.

For example, the daybill I would like to have “The Accused” 1949 sold for $30 around 9 years ago. I would now pay $300 for it.

Collectors often become dealers as their collections grow. Do you see yourself as a dealer as well as being a Movie Poster Collector?

I wouldn’t consider myself a dealer now and I am quite sure I won’t become one in the future. I am happy to sell but for the most part I buy and collect.

Do you collect anything else apart from Movie Posters?

I collect anything that interests me. I have a few rail cannons from the 17th century, swords, coins, ashtrays, pinball machines etc etc

What does your family think about your collecting interests.

I have 3 sons and a daughter. My 3 sons are collectors too and I am working on my daughter. My wife tolerates our activities and is often amused by it.

RICHARDSON-STUDIO-BANNER

About John Reid

2 Comments

  1. Wills

    January 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Great article John. Keep up the good work. I gather Brain’s reference to “the recent James Bond sales” is reference to the sale of an original From Russia With Love daybill which admittedly I had never viewed before.

    • John Reid

      February 6, 2013 at 7:13 am

      Thanks for the comments. Yes, Brian was referring to the sale of a From Russia with Love daybill and a Dr No daybill. Both went for over 2000.00. I am aware of only four daybills for FRWL and have only seen a couple for DR NO over the years – both of those from NZ.

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