Prudhoe Business Magazine met John Page, who runs Movie Prop Warehouse, for a chat and a very interesting photoshoot.
John told us how he got into the business of selling high value collectors’ items worth up to £22,000.
PB: How did you get into selling movie props?
JP: I’ve always been a collector and a movie fan. Growing up in the 1980s, I was surrounded by iconic franchises like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Superman, which all had really great toys and merchandise.
I saw an ad in a film magazine in the late 90s for screen-used ‘Mars Money’ from the 1990 film Total Recall. That was the first prop I bought, and you can see Arnold Schwarzenegger hold it on screen in the movie.
That blew me away, and from there I searched everywhere for more, building up contacts as I went. It got to the point where I couldn’t keep everything I was being offered, which led to me building a website to sell items.
PB: Do most items tend to be one-offs?
JP: It’s a common misconception that props are one-offs. Film-making is expensive and most items are made in multiples so, if one gets damaged or lost, filming can continue using a spare. There are also several versions of props made – including the ‘hero’ items made from the best materials for close-up camera work and stunt pieces, which tend to be made from rubber or plastic. How many of these items survive filming or get released to the public is a different matter.
PB: Where do you tend to source your products?
JP: Over the years of trading, we have built up many contacts within the film industry, sourcing some truly incredible items. We are at the point now where industry professionals contact us, and we regularly get contacted by prop masters and set dressers with items for sale.
PB: What’s the largest item you’ve ever sold?
JP: We have sold some huge items over the years, like a full size Chopper motorbike from the Samuel L Jackson movie, 51st State. It was driven by Emily Mortimer who plays an assassin in the movie. We bought it from the set dresser who had bought it from the production after filming. He was driving it round the Yorkshire countryside in his retirement.
PB: And the most expensive?
JP: The Most expensive item we have sold was Ewan McGregor’s actual Lightsabre from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, which sold for £22,000 in 2012. Today it would be worth a lot more!
PB: Presumably you have customers from all over the UK, do you also ship overseas?
JP: We have customers all over the world, the US is actually our biggest market, but we ship everywhere and have regular customers in China, France and Germany.
PB: What made you get into selling autographs too?
JP: During lockdown in 2020, we pretty much shut up shop. Nothing was being filmed and none of our contacts were selling anything. In 2019, we’d hosted a series of celebrity ‘evening with…’ events so I had built up quite a list of contacts from Star Wars and Game of Thrones. I emailed several actors we had been in touch with, to gauge interest in us selling their autographs, pretty much all of them agreed. It has been a surprising success and the list of actors we sell for grows every day!