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Movies speak a universal language

And people pay from $14 up to $6,000 for visual mementos of those films, poster shop finds
By Ann Ruppenstein

September 15, 2011

Neighbourhoods: York Mills / Windfields / York Heights

Originally published in our Bayview Mills print edition(s).

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Whether you are in the market for an original Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster, which retails for $6,000 — on sale — or a more affordable $14 reprint, MoviePoster.com has both.

Tucked in a strip-mall near York Mills Road and Leslie Street, Shelly Candel’s warehouse has been supplying locals and customers as far as Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and South Korea with movie posters for the last 18 years.

“We have about a million posters,” says Candel. “We have about 50,000 different movie titles, so we carry everything from old vintage posters, originals from the ’30s, to reprints of Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Star Wars.”

When she started the business, which was located on Lesmill Road near Highway 401, Candel says it revolved mainly around a mail-order style catalogue.

Then, she says, everything changed when the company went online in the mid ’90s and reached a broader range of customers through web orders.

“Films and movie posters, just like music, they’re the international language — people understand it even if they don’t speak the language,” she says. “You mention Rocky to a guy who is 25 and he’ll know what you are talking about or you’ll say Bruce Lee, he’ll know exactly what you are talking about.

“It breaks down barriers.”

Candel says having her own company was a natural progression since her family used to distribute movie posters to small-town theatres across the country, which left her with a base of stock to sell.

Although she says several directors like Richie Mehta and Atom Egoyan have come by the warehouse and she’s filled orders for Tim Burton’s production company and James Franco’s press agent, she says her store has managed to remain under the radar to those who live nearby.

“I think our goal would be that at least people in the community know about us because I think still people don’t know about us,” she says.

When it comes to older posters, Candel says one of the ways to detect an original from a reprint is to check for fold lines because film companies used to send posters in an envelope.

“So folded posters are the acceptable way to collect, because that’s what they did,” she says, adding that other telling signs include the colour, quality and feel of the paper. “They didn’t roll them.”

As for newer posters, she says originals are printed on both sides since they are designed for glass display boxes.

“I think you have to trust where you are buying your posters from to make sure they’re selling you what is a reprint, what is an original, because fraud happens,” she warns.

Candel says the reasons why people buy movie posters vary. She says her customers are either really passionate about a specific film or its design, they use them as decoration for their home theatres or they are avid collectors.

“Collecting is quite interesting because oftentimes posters become very expensive and you’re thinking ‘wow, gee what would be so much money’,” she says.

She explains that some posters have an interesting history that makes them more valuable. Before Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi was released, teaser posters came out with a different name.

“They called it Revenge of the Jedi,” she says. “So the poster came out and I think at the time they were selling it for like $20, but then what happened was (George) Lucas said ‘Hell no, we’re not having this type of poster — a Jedi doesn’t seek revenge.’ ”

Although the posters were supposed to be destroyed, they are now a collector’s item, which sell for $700 each.

More recently, she says, after Heath Ledger’s death in 2008, the promotional posters for The Dark Knight that featured his character, The Joker, skyrocketed in price.

As for her favourite posters Candel says she has to like both the movie and its artwork. While her office is adorned with Star Wars memorabilia, she says she’s also a big fan of the posters for Chinatown and Jaws.

“It’s quite interesting, most people find the movies they see as teenagers stick with them and resonates with them for the rest of their lives,” she says. “So for me I saw The Sound of Music as a kid and I love that movie, I could see it over and over.

“Whatever it was, it had some emotional impact when I was little.”

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