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The terms "movie art," "theatre art," and "theatre paper" generally refer to any number of advertising materials that feature the artwork created for a particular film. By the mid-1910's, with the movie industry exploding, movie studios and film exhibitors utilized these advertising tools in one of three ways:

Display In and Around a Theatre

Materials used for display purposes included the different types of movie posters, lobby cards, inserts, banners, etc

Press Information Dissemination

Press information was provided to the media (newspaper and magazines and later radio, TV, etc) in press kits, campaign manuals, press stills, etc.

Promotional Giveaways

Promotional giveaway items included just about anything that has the movie's title or artwork printed on it AND was given away at a premiere or special showing.


Movie posters were some of the earliest forms of "movie art." The first movie posters came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Before long, however, the movie industry adopted some of the popular standard sizes and types being used in other entertainment fields (i.e., the circus, fairs, and vaudeville). These posters were printed on paper and came in four incremental sizes. They were:

27" x 41" - Referred to as "One sheet"

41" x 81" - Referred to as "3 sheet"

81" x 81" - Referred to as "6 Sheet"

246"x108" - Referred to as "24 Sheet"

While these sizes were very popular, theatre owners and movie exhibitors wanted more variety in their advertising materials. The Trust, along with the major independent exhibitors, introduced a new series of posters printed on card stock. They recognized that card stock items were more durable and could be re-used. The earliest forms of the card stock posters were:

They later added other sizes of card material, including:

As the movie industry grew, the movie studios provided their exhibitors with more unique or more elaborate display materials, particularly for larger advertising campaigns. These included:

In addition to the materials produced for the theatre lobby displays, movie studios also released a series of window card posters to be displayed in places OTHER THAN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE THEATRE.

As the industry grew, movie studios took advantage of the growing transportation industry by adding larger, more visible posters. These included:

Billboard (other than 24-sheet)

Bus Stop


This above list of sizes and types is by no means inclusive. There are always exceptions, as movie studios from time to time would produce specialized products for a particular film. However, those listed are the most commonly used posters.

Posters for Display

In addition to their artwork, most of the posters used for display would contain some or in most cases, all of the following information:

The Film's Title

The Film's Stars - In the early days, the placement of the names on the poster would indicate the actor's "pecking order."

The Film's Producer, Production Company and Director

Miscellaneous information such as musical score, screenplay, distributor, etc.

Copyright information and protection clauses.

The Litho Company - This applies primarily to pre-1950's material.

Ownership Tag - National Screen Service also included numbers along with their tag information.

In order to give theatres supplemental information, revised information, or provide "stock" information, the studios issued a "snipe." A snipe is basically a piece of paper with additional information that is pasted, stapled or somehow attached to an existing poster. (for more info see Snipe)


This section is for reference use. Images found on this site are property of L.A.M.P. and are for reference purposes only with NO rights implied or given. See LAMP Disclaimer
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