Star Wars memorabilia is the most sought-after of any movie franchise, according to new research.
A new study by JustCollecting.com shows that for collectors, Star Wars is in a galaxy all of its own.
Using auction results from the last 10 years, the study ranks 20 of cinema’s biggest movie franchises in terms of the value of their props, costumes and production memorabilia. Memorabilia from the Star Wars franchise attracts the biggest bids at auction, the study found, ahead of pieces from The Lord of the Rings and James Bond series.
Each franchise is ranked by the combined value of its five most expensive items, along with factors including the number of lots sold, and the number of lots which realized over $100,000.
Memorabilia from the Star Wars franchise leads the list with a top-five total of $1.79 million, and 13 individual lots having achieved six-figure prices at auction.
“There’s a reason Star Wars is at the top of our movie franchise list,” says JustCollecting’s Simon Lindley. “Fans are emotionally invested in these movies. It’s the same reason the recent trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought tears to more than a few eyes.
“No other film series in history has had the same cultural impact as the original Star Wars trilogy. Not only did it help define the idea of the blockbuster ‘event’ movie which dominates Hollywood to this day, but for many people it defined their entire childhood.
“Now that same generation is in a position to lay out serious money on props and costumes from the films. Memorabilia from the original Star Wars trilogy has generated more six-figure results than any other film franchise. For auctioneers it equates to millions of dollars in sales, but for many collectors recapturing a piece of their youth is simply priceless.”
Hobbits and Secret Agents
Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is ranked second in the study, after collectors shelled out $1.42 million on magical weapons including Gandalf’s staff, Aragorn’s sword and Legolas’ bow. Iconic props such as Odd-Job’s steel-rimmed bowler hat and Sean Connery’s Walther PPK pistol helped James Bond, the world’s longest-running movie series, to third place on the list.
The Star Trek and Terminator franchises complete the top five. Other film series ranked include Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, The Hunger Games, Back to the Future, Alien and the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
“Sci-Fi and fantasy films tend to produce props and costumes that are instantly recognizable,” says Lindley. “Whether it’s a hover-board, a T-Rex or a T-800, we all remember them because they capture our imaginations so clearly. The fact that collectors lust after these pieces decades later is a credit to the remarkable production designers, craftsmen and costume departments that produced them.”
The study throws up some surprises. The most valuable costume listed is a red dress worn by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, which fetched a stunning $300,000 (more than 30 times its estimate) in 2013, just five years after the film’s release.
And interestingly, the Harry Potter series – history’s highest-grossing film series, which made more than $7.7 billion worldwide – sits dead last in a less-than-magical 20th place.
“People may be surprised that Harry Potter is at the bottom of the list, given the enormous popularity of the books and films,” says Lindley. “However, there are two main reasons why it ranks so low. Firstly, major screen-used props and costumes from the films have rarely appeared at auction. So far nothing truly iconic has hit the market, apart from Harry’s glasses from the first film. And secondly, most of the fans who grew up with the films aren’t yet in a position to pay five or six-figure sums for memorabilia.
“Give it 20 years or so, and throw in a little nostalgia for the noughties, and we’re sure those collectors will spend big to own a part of their childhoods too.”
- Most expensive item: Panavision camera used by George Lucas to film Star Wars ($625,000)
- Most expensive prop: Aragorn’s sword from The Lord of the Rings ($437,000)
- Least expensive prop: Golden snitch from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ($7,000)
- Most valuable costume: Red dress worn by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games ($300,000)
- Most valuable miniature model: TIE Fighter model from Star Wars ($350,000)
- Most valuable monster: Original alien costume from Alien ($126,500)
- Oldest prop: Charlton Heston’s Planet of the Apes astronaut suit ($40,000)
- Most recent prop: Leather hunting jacket worn by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($60,000)
The full list can be found here: