Updated: December 17, 2012

Guide to Movie Poster Sizes

More about the fascinating world of Movie Posters!

Movie posters come in different sizes—ranging from postcard size to huge 24 feet billboard sizes.

Among the most popular sizes, one finds the one-sheet and the half-sheet, yet the fascinating world of movie posters comprises numerous poster sizes that even vary from one country to another.

In this movie poster guide, we explain all there is the need to know about the different US sizes - including dimensions, type of paper stock, and poster use

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Hang up a movie memory on your wall ...but which size?

Movie posters have always been printed on a variety of standard sizes since the early stages of the movie industry.

However, some of these standards did change along the years; as we will explain shortly, a typical case is the one-sheet. To complicate matters, poster sizes do vary from one country to another. French, Italian, British, Russian and Japanese movie posters—just to mention a few—all have their own variety of movie poster sizes that differ from American movie poster industry.

In this article, we will concentrate mainly on the most important U.S. sizes. However, this article does not stop at just listing the different sizes; we also include additional information related to the respective poster size like poster layout and intended use.

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The One-Sheet - Most popular American Poster Size

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Original one-sheet poster

The One-Sheet is definitely the most common among sizes of US movie poster, measuring 27 inches by 40 inches. It represents the standard movie poster size used in U.S. movie theaters today.

However, up to 1983, one-sheet originals measured approximately 27x41 inches in size, while re-prints of pre-1983 originals normally measure anything between 39.5 inches to 40.5 inches in height, by 27 inches in width.

After 1983, we started to see a shift in the one-sheet movie poster size with the height being reduced to 40 inches rather than the original 41 inches used previously. By 1989, almost all original one-sheets were 40 inches, with poster sizes measuring 39.5 inches and 41 inches being the exception.

Reprints of post 1989 posters would normally come in the same size as the original poster size, making it difficult especially for the untrained eye to identify an original from a reprint.

'DS' One-Sheet: DS one-sheet posters come in the same size as the one-sheet poster except that these are double-sided posters—hence the designation 'DS', or 'DS' 1 Sheet posters.

101 DALMATIANS - DS 1 Movie Poster

101 Dalmatians - Release Original DS one-sheet poster available from Stargate Cinema

DS 1 Sheet posters have printing on both the front and the back of the paper stock, with the printing on the backside being in precise alignment with that on the front and a mirror image of the printing on the front side. The inking on both sides of the paper stock will render the poster more suitable for use in backlit poster light boxes — producing richer illumination with more saturated colors as against the more washed-out results obtained with single-sided posters.

The growing use of backlit poster light boxes especially after 1985 led to a larger number of modern posters (originals and reprints) being printed on both sides.

If you are after a double-sided original movie poster, go to a reputable source. Our recommendation here is for MovieGoods and Stargate Cinema accessible through our movie poster online store; both have an extensive stock of DS 1 Sheet originals.

A few words about DS One-Sheet posters:

Up to a few years ago, double-sided printing was considered as a guarantee that the poster is an original. This no longer holds true. In recent years, a handful of reproductions have been printed double-sided, often on better quality paper than originals. This has led to a lot of fraud and misrepresentation in the movie posters collector world.

Distribution of One-sheet Posters:

In recent years, these have mostly been distributed rolled, but folded one-sheets were commonly seen throughout the 1980s.

Posters printed before 1985 are almost always found with two horizontal folds and one vertical fold, except Disney posters which often do not have the final vertical fold.

Other Movie Poster Sizes (smallest to largest)

Still 8 x 10 inches: These are black and white photos, usually with a glossy finish, used for lobby display and press promotion.

Lobby Card (LC): These measure 14 x 11 inches, were printed on light card stock, and were originally made in sets of eight per movie for display in theater lobbies. Most sets have one title card featuring title and production credits plus related artwork. The other seven cards are colored photographic scenes.

Lobby cards are no longer used in the US, but are still sometimes produced for the overseas movie market. Finding complete lobby card sets is not easy, as most desirable title sets have been broken up. Often, sets will have what are termed 'dead' cardscards that do not feature main actors or scenes.

There are also the so called Jumbo Lobby Cards (JLC) which were made before 1940 and are usually found only as single cards. JLC come in 14 inch x 17 inch size. 

Window Card (WC): 14 x 22 inches, are printed on card stock and come flat. These smaller movie posters were usually used for off-site advertising e.g. in windows of local stores in exchange of movie passes. Top four inches were left blank by the printer for the local exhibitor to fill in. For this reason, WC posters are sometimes found with the top 4 inches trimmed off.

There is alsothough not so common among movie poster sizesa Jumbo Window Card (JWC), measuring 22 x 28 inches.

A Mini Window Card (MWC) is also available, measuring 11 x 14 inches; these are also printed on cardboard.

Insert: These measure 14 x 36 inches, are usually printed on card stock and come rolled though many pre-1960 were distributed folded; post-1960 inserts were printed on thinner stock.

Great Imposter - Half-Sheet Movie Poster

Great Imposter Lobby Card #1
Original Half-Sheet Poster available from MovieGoods.com

1/2 sheet: This is probably the second most popular size among movie poster. It measures 28 x 22 inches, is printed on card stock, and come rolled. Image is usually different from that used on 1-sheet; instead, it is often the same as the first, or title card, in the lobby card set.

Lenticular: These come in approximately the same size as the one-sheet (approx. 27 x 41 inches) movie posters with the main difference being that lenticular posters are printed between composite sheets of plastic and lit from behind to create a 3D/holographic effect.

30 x 40 Heavy Stock Movie Posters: These measure 30 x 40 inches and are printed on heavier card stock. Image invariably is the same as 1-sheet but may be silk screened instead of lithographed. These posters come rolled and do not exist for many film titles.

40 x 60 inches: Printed on heavier card stock, otherwise these are similar to the smaller 30 x 40 heavy stock posters. Image may also have been silk screened, however it often differs from that of the smaller heavy stock movie poster size.  These are designed for use outside the theater, on an easel, exposed to the elements. This poster size is often incorrectly referred to as a 2-Sheet.

Banner: These movie posters measure approximately 81 x 24 inches. Older ones were printed on bookbinder's cloth or light card stock. Modern ones are vinyl or light card stock or paper, while sizes of banner posters are highly variable.

3-Sheet Movie posters: Often pasted onto the wall outside of theater, 3-Sheet posters measure 41 x 81 inches, and are printed using two sheets of lower stock paper; though rare as it may be, it is also possible to find 3-Sheet posters printed on three separate sheets.

From the 1970s onwards, three-sheets were sometimes printed in one piece and issued as 'international' version.

6-Sheet Movie Posters: 81 x 81 inches, printed on paper stock, usually in four sections, and come folded; for use in larger U.S. theater lobbies and movie palaces, or on the outside of the building. This poster size is not so popular and rare to find.

Billboard or 24-sheet Movie Posters: These massive posters measure approximately 106 x 234 inches, but may come in various poster sizes. As their name suggests, they are for use on roadside billboards and are usually printed on twelve separate sheets.

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 Article Content

Issues discussed in this article:

Blue bullet  Which Movie Poster Size? Different sizes both in the US movie poster market and internationally

Blue bullet  The One-Sheet Poster: The most popular American movie poster size

Blue bullet Other Poster Sizes: Discussing other different poster sizes in use in the US movie poster industry.

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