21 Retro Movie Posters Film Buffs Will Want to Collect
Merchandise is one of the many ways to promote that you’re a fan. Whether you’re proudly sponsoring something on your shirt, have thousands of stickers covering your notebooks, or maybe you have the soundtrack downloaded and memorized, these are a few things fans can do to show their support.
So, when we’re talking about movie posters, retro movie posters to be exact, this is just another example of how you can show off your love and knowledge of the media. It doesn’t matter if you’re a true fan of that specific movie or not, several individuals opt to collect movie posters just to complete their collection within a certain decade or so.
But sometimes you just need a poster simply for its style. If you’re one of these people that want to decorate their home theater with some amazing retro movie posters, then read more to find the top posters to collect.
What Are Movie Posters?
Similar to a book cover, the movie poster gives a quick glimpse of what’s to come without giving way the entire story. This means it shows off the characters starring in it dressed in their character, and maybe some additional details that help make it stand out.
It also shows off the title, the director, and the release date along with a slogan or quotes showing off the movie. This plays a huge role in the success of the movie. While you should never judge a book by its cover, everyone does when it comes to media.
What Makes a Movie Poster Retro?
So, what makes a movie poster retro? The general idea of something being retro is if it’s around 20 years old, but not quite 40 years old yet. Granted, anything can be considered retro, whether it’s old or not.
Retro is just from a certain time period, the style of it. There are several new items that are being created to look retro just decorative purposes. For instance, if you look at the photo above of the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood poster, a movie that came out in 2019, it really does have that retro vibe.
From the classic cars to the art style of the poster, to the way everyone is dressed. This could be considered a retro movie poster; however, I will be going through each year from the 70s through the 90s.
Are Movie Posters Worth Collecting?
Definitely! Collecting posters is not a new hobby, as it’s a way for movie buffs to really show their love. By collecting posters, you’re able to hold onto an original piece of a film.
As the years go by, replicas are made for classic or retro films, but it’s not the original piece. It’s a great value aesthetically, as well as a huge sentimental piece that will let you remember some of your favorite, most popular films.
Are Retro Movie Posters a Good Investment?
But after all is said and done, are posters a good investment? That’s really the main question for many. Collecting items can be a hobby, but many would like to see a profit later on in life, as eventually you’ll want to give your collection away, or potentially sell it to help as you get older.
Thankfully, movie posters are a decent investment. But with all kinds of collecting, there are variables that come in. It really depends on how you treat the poster. If you are able to frame is correctly, therefore preserving it properly, the investment is the better.
But there is also the trick of figuring out which movie poster is the better investment. Usually, movies that do better tend to sell for higher later on in life. Keeping track of how well a movie is doing can help figure out which posters to keep in the best condition to sell down the road.
Best Retro Movie Posters to Collect
Without further ado, let’s check out some of the best retro movie posters that every movie fan needs in their collection. From some of the classics, to the perfect definition of “retro” these are by far the best choices for each year from 1977 to 1999.
21. Star Wars: A New Hope, 1977
What’s more retro than Star Wars? It’s a classic, it’s still relevant to this day, and it makes up a good majority of the nerd community. I love the movie, you love the movie, and if you don’t then you can at least agree that the franchise is just exceptional.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is the best retro movie poster in 1977. It’s the first film released in the series, but the fourth chronologically, and it did an exceptional job at showcasing itself. Luke Skywalker holding the lightsaber in the air, Princess Leia beside him, an ominous Darth Vader in the background, the Death Star, the droids, all of it is just brilliant in my opinion.
And of course, we have the classic line on the top left of “In a galaxy far, far away…”. If you need a poster to fill up space, this one is a no-brainer, a must-have.
20. The Driver, 1978
Stepping away from classic sci-fi though, and away from my ramblings, let’s chat about The Driver, the 1978 crime thriller film written and directed by Walter Hill. Starring O’Neal, a getaway driver for robberies whose exceptional talent has prevent him being caught, and Bruce Dem, a detective who promises pardons to a gang if they help catch him in a set-up robbery.
This poster is beautiful, the art style really pops out and screams retro. The classic car zipping through the different characters, which are stylized in a beautiful art style. It’s the classic cat and mouse chase between the Driver and Detective.
19. Alien, 1979
I’m not a fan of horror, and while many might argue that this isn’t that scary of a movie, I couldn’t get through it in a single watch. But even so, I can’t deny the hold it has on many.
The Alien franchise is huge, it even has a video game, so it has to be put on the list as the best retro movie posters in 1979. This sci-fi horror film was directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O’Bannon. The story follows the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo that find a help signal from another ship.
When they board that ship, however, they realize they are up against an aggressive and deadly extraterrestrial set loose. The poster itself is simple, yet does what it needs to do, all while have an immense retro vibe.
18. Airplane!, 1980
I mean the wording, the look of the plane? This is retro through-in-through. Airplane! is a classic and a beloved movie and has the best retro movie poster in 1980.
It’s a comedy film written and directed by the brothers David and Jerry Zucker, produced by Jon Davison. The film is a parody of the disaster film genre. The story follows a crew that becomes sick with food poisoning so a neurotic ex-fighter pilot must land a commercial airplane full of passengers safely.
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17. Halloween II, 1981
Sometimes retro just means it’s… good for its time. And that’s what I consider this movie poster to be. The skull in the pumpkin is just a bit odd, and you can pretty much tell that it’s two separate images that were sort of meshed together. But who really cares about my critique? My art skills are equal to a child’s.
But we can all agree this Halloween II has one of the best retro movie posters, and the best overall in 1981. It gives off the exact aesthetic of spooky 1980s vibes, and I love it. The Halloween franchise itself is abundant with amazing retro vibes with the clothing and the style of the characters, but they’re in the perfect decade of what is considered “retro”.
That being said, this slasher film starring Jamie Lee Curtis being attacked by Michael Myers for the second time is a movie poster that you need in your collection.
16. Blade Runner, 1982
Now this is a movie I have seen more so recently than when I was younger, and I love it so much. With my random film class in college, I went through this Blade Runner and the newest one about 6 times before the semester was over to write essays. And while it’s a crazy futuristic world, it’s still retro.
The art style in the movie poster is gorgeous. The techy cars, the cigarette smoke that reminds me of Pulp Fiction (yes, I know that comes out later), and just the bright lights, harsh contrasting’s darks, and the noir-vibe, I feel this screams retro.
This sci-fi film is another one directed by Ridley Scott and stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos and is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
15. Scarface, 1983
I’m sure you’re more familiar with the other movie poster that’s black and white, with Al Pacino standing in the middle in a white suit, however, this one is much more retro.
Another poster that has a beautiful painting depicting the movie, from Al Pacino lounging with a gun, Michelle Pfeiffer in the forefront with a gorgeous dress, and a classic car in the background.
This is a beautiful poster that all collectors should have their hands on. Scarface itself is a crime drama that doesn’t need an introduction, as it’s one of the most highly regarded movies in the 1980s.
14. Ghostbusters, 1984
While there have been several complaints on the more recent Ghostbusters, from the 2016 version starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, to the 2021 release with Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace, we can all agree that the first, original release was the best.
Starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Harold Ramis, the Ghostbusters in 1984 topped the others, and so does their movie poster. The three eccentric parapsychologist who started their ghost-catching business in New York City are at the forefront, with the ominous sky above. Their iconic suits are beautiful, and the logo is right where the eye rests when scanning this poster.
13. Back to the Future, 1985
To answer my previous question of what’s more retro than Star Wars? Probably Back to the Future. Can anyone think of retro, the 1980s, without thinking of this movie? The 1985 sci-fi film directed by Robert Zemeckis stars Michal J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson.
The story is set in 1985 where Marty McFly, a teenager who accidentally is sent back to 1955 in a time-traveling DeLorean built by his scientist friends Emmett “Doc” Brown and prevents his parents from falling in love. It’s a crazy movie featuring classic cars, retro styles, and the perfect retro movie poster to go with it. Between the jacket, the goggles, and the iconic car, this poster is hard to beat.
12. Full Metal Jacket, 1987
Taking a huge turn from science fiction to a war drama, Full Metal Jacket is one that I’ve seen almost every year since meeting my spouse, and it’s definitely one that deserves a spot on the list. The helmet, the peace sign, the art style, it’s all retro, even for a war movie.
The film was directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick and is based on Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers. The film stars Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin. The story follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their boot camp training in Marine Corps recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, primarily focusing in the first half to the film on privates J.T. Davis and Leonard Lawrence who struggle under abusive drill instructor.
The second half portrays the experiences of the two marines in Vietnamese cities during the Vietnam War. It’s a brutal movie for sure, and there are some hard scenes, but if you’re a fan, this is a must when it comes to having movie posters.
11. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of the best retro films and has the best retro movie posters for 1989 with the wonderful silhouette of Roger Rabbit with the film, which shows scenes throughout the movie.
It’s beautiful, it’s simple, and it’s one that you need on your walls if you’re a movie buff. The fantasy comedy is still talked about to this day and is a fan-favorite for many. The fact that humans and cartoon characters lived and interacted in this movie blew my mind when I watched it at first.
Another movie directed by Robert Zemeckis; this is loosely based on the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf. The story follows toon-hating detective who is a cartoon rabbit’s only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder.
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10. Goodfellas, 1990
Whether you’re looking for classics or retro, this fits for both. Goodfellas is a biographical crime film directed by Martin Scorses and is one of the best films of all time, which makes it a must for movie fans.
The contrasting colors between the black background, the light blue surroundings, with the busts of the starring actors, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci is perfect. A lot of posters around this time used contrasting blacks and lights, especially with crime movies, especially gangster movies. The story follows Henry Hill (Liotta) and his life in the mafia, covering his relationship with his wife and his mob partners.
9. Rocketeer, 1991
This poster is beautiful. The style of it is gorgeous, and the contrasting background to the characters bright red and gold helmet is amazing. It really gives the look of him speeding off into the sky. This is one retro movie poster that you must have in your collection.
The Rocketeer is a period superhero film, the first one on the list today, from Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures. The story follows a young pilot who stumbles onto a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a high-flying masked hero.
8. Reservoir Dogs, 1992
We can’t talk retro movie posters without including at least one Quentin Tarantino movie. The man is a legend, just like Martin Scorses, and has created some wild movies over the years. Reservoir Dogs is a retro movie indeed even though it’s a crime thriller.
This neo-noir film is Tarantino’s debut film, and made quite a first impression, setting him to become one of the greats in the industry. The movie focuses on a jewelry heist that goes wrong, causing the surviving criminals to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
7. Jurassic Park, 1993
You can’t go anywhere without seeing this logo. And while it’s incredibly simple compared to the other posters you see today; it really does do its job. Jurassic Park is as retro as Back to the Future and Star Wars, a franchise that is several years old but is still relevant, still beloved by fans, and still incredibly important.
And while it’s simple, it is one of the best retro movie posters in 1993. The sci-fi franchise was created by Michael Crichton and centers around a theme park featuring cloned dinosaurs, but of course a disaster happens, and the dinosaurs break loose.
And for some reason, everyone keeps thinking it’s a great idea to keep going to these parks, where cages are always malfunctioning, breaking, or a dinosaur just becomes a bit too smart for us.
6. Pulp Fiction, 1994
You knew you were going to see this poster. The 1994 movie, Pulp Fiction, has the best retro movie poster of its time and is also considered one of the best movies ever. The cult classic is gorgeous, and a movie I’ve watched way too many times in college.
The poster itself is beautiful. Featuring Uma Thurman as the center with her smoke, her retro style with the magazine and gun, it’s amazing. The crime film is another by the amazing Tarantino and tells a story of four intertwining tales of crime and violence. If you want to have a complete movie poster collection, you need to have this one.
5. The Usual Suspects, 1995
After almost completing this list, it seems as though crime and sci-fi created some of the best posters during these periods. The 1995 winner for best movie poster is The Usual Suspects, a mystery crime thriller directed by Bryan Singer starring Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro and more.
The lettering reminds me of Goodfellas and The Godfather, and the way they’re dressed screams retro. Following the sole survivor of a pier shoot-out tells, viewers will hear the story of how a notorious criminal influenced the events that began with five criminals meeting in a seemingly random police lineup.
4. Fargo, 1996
Different from the television show currently running, but the inspiration of it, Fargo is a comedy crime film written, directed and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen.
The story follows a Minnesota car salesman Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. The poster is beautiful, as it’s portrayed as a cross-stitch pattern.
3. Boogie Nights, 1997
Boogie Nights‘ poster is amazing. The hair, the clothing, the style, all retro. This period comedy film was written and directed by Thomas Anderson and is set in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.
The film focuses on a young nightclub dishwasher who becomes a popular star of pornographic films, chronicling his rise in the Golden Age of Porn in 1970s and then his fall in the 1980s. This is a great movie, and with an amazing poster like that, this is one of the best movie posters that movie buffs should add to their collection.
2. The Truman Show, 1998
Whether you’re a fan of Jim Carrey or a conspiracy theorist, this movie has stuck with you over the years. With more talk that we’re all trapped in a simulation, and nothing is real, you might be thinking about The Truman Show a little more these days than ever before.
Either way, this satirical sci-fi psychological comedy was directed by Peter Weir. It features Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, a man who grew up living an ordinary life that, without his knowledge, takes place on a large set populated by actors for a reality TV show about him.
1. The Matrix, 1999
As the final entry for our 1999 pick of the best retro movie poster, The Matrix takes the spot. Retro, in my opinion, is also about technology. I think of old cars, radios, movies that talk about the future in ways that will probably never happen, and The Matrix is one of the many examples.
The sci-fi movie was written and directed by the Wachowskis and is the first installment of the franchise starring Keanu Reeves. The story is set in a dystopian future where humanity is unknowingly trapped inside the Matrix, a simulated reality that intelligent machines have created to distract humans as they use their bodies for energy.
Where To Buy Retro Movie Posters
There are several places that you can purchase movie posters. If you’re looking for originals, then check out moviepostershop.com for the latest listings, the classics, and more. These are pretty inexpensive, so it’s the perfect place to shop for several movies to stock up on.
Movieposters.com is another great site that has some of the best original reprints. And then let’s not forget those that enjoy the aesthetics of movie posters and want their own unique minimalistic style, you can find those on Etsy.
Movie posters are one of the more simple, inexpensive items that you can collect if you’re looking for something. Where you could be spending hundreds of dollars on figures, Funko Pops and statues, or even thousands upon thousands for sports memorabilia, posters are not as crazy.
You can definitely find something that cost you upwards to thousands of dollars, maybe even more depending on what movie, if they’re signed, and more. But for the most part, you can find original posters reprinted from the classics for around $20, or the newest ones for only $10.
So, if you’re a true movie buff that needs to start their collection, these are some of the best ones to start with to get you going.