The category of commercial posters represents the thousands of posters that are designed, issued and distributed for direct sales to the public. They come in all types and sizes showcasing thousands of subjects. They can feature cars, models, animated characters, sports stars, movies and movie stars.
One small area of commercial posters is dedicated to the movie industry. Because of public demand for movie related materials, some commercial printing companies issue posters known as commercial movie art.
Cinema material is normally larger, better quality and more expensive to make because its purpose is to entice you to go to your cinema to see the film. Commercial posters are smaller in size, of a reduced quality and less expensive as they are meant for purchase purposes.
The major factor that differentiates legitimate movie art from commercially produced posters is that legitimate movie art is never intended for sale to the public. They represent advertising materials that are designed for and distributed to the cinemas to advertise a particular film. Legitimate theater art is printed in limited numbers that are needed for their advertising campaign.
Commercial posters, on the other hand, are printed en masse, and can be reproduced whenever there is enough demand. Even though sometimes the same artwork may be used (sometimes even with the credits), they are not limited to just that. Major scenes, stars, sayings and even sometimes spoofs and insinuations are produced for sale to the public. These posters are then distributed to major outlets for public purchase.
Although they can sometimes look identical at face value, there are a number of ways to determine if a poster is commercially produced.
The most obvious difference is the size of the poster. Commercial posters are normally the standard size of 24 inches x 36 inches or smaller. However, there are also 1 Sheet Reprints that are product to match an Original poster (27 inches x 41inches or 27 inches x 40 inches).
Another major difference can be found in the border of the poster. Commercial posters normally contain a reorder number and the name of the printer or distributor. Original movie posters never have a reorder number and almost never have the name of a printer.