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Collecting 007 Lobby Cards (3)

25th August 2013

Guest writer Simon Firth offers a collector's perspective on the history of Bond's front of house marketing

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Continuing from Part 2

"The Living Daylights" introduced a colour poster graphic and the set for "Licence to Kill" had a pleasant graded background to them. The set for "GoldenEye" had all aspects flipped in the sense that the image was shifted to the right, the title to the top and the credits to the left but the one quiz show point to this set was that it was the only Bond set, to that date, to incorporate a title card making it, in effect, a set of nine. A title card is a card that shows the poster artwork, which, in this case as it was produced in the UK, was of British quad design.

Over-production was in full swing with the set for "Tomorrow Never Dies", which took the image over to the left once again but included an amalgamation of poster aspects from both the UK and US artworks. The bank of TVs from the UK art is to the right and the 007 logo and title from the US art to the bottom. A heavier paper stock was used making a dynamic set but the artwork was beginning to detract from the image itself.

If over-production was in full swing for "Tomorrow Never Dies", then for the set produced for "The World is not Enough", it had swung about as far as it could go and had returned to thump itself into the middle distance. The title was squeezed in at the top, there was full US poster artwork to the right and the full poster credits were included at the bottom - somewhere amongst this advocating of 'more is better' were the images. However the paper stock was very impressive and as another quiz type anomaly, this set came as a set of 12. One card showing Bond and Jones being held to gunpoint is a poor choice due to framing - the arms and guns, the only things showing of their attackers, were seen to be just creeping into the card from the left. Your attention is referred to what was said about the "Dr. No" set in that the design was simple and spacious. While the set for World is very modern and sleek, when directly compared to the set for "Dr. No" it does appear exceptionally cluttered and busy. Perhaps it is trying to make up for in excitement what was lacking in the film it was tying to promote.

A recently surfacing story is that there are fake sets of lobby cards in the market place for both "For Your Eyes Only" and "The World is not Enough". While reproduction posters masquerading as studio and distributor originals have long been known about in collector circles, it has become apparent that the same is now true for some lobby sets. Quite why those reproducing have chosen to reproduce these two titles is beyond the knowledge of anyone interviewed thus far on poster collecting forums. Both are very easily obtainable in their own right and both are not too valuable. As it is, there is information available on MoviePosterAuthenticating.com on how the original sets differ from their faked counterparts and these include on the fake "Eyes Only" set; wider white borders, different bluer inks, fuzzy text and cropped imaging on the 'legs artwork'. There is currently no documented information on the World sets suffice it to say, those creating the copies could have chosen a more worthy film title on which to practice and sell their wares.

As previously mentioned, all the sets from "View" were produced by the UK. Again, for reasons unknown, production once again reverted to the US with a simply staggering set for "Die Another Day". In times when paper marketing material has been gradually phased out since the 1980's with FOH sets and Pressbooks being made redundant in the face of electronic advertising and indeed, one would say, the paper poster itself being threatened into oblivion, it is amazing that a set was produced for "Die Another Day" at all. This is a superlative example of what can be done with the right designers. A set of 10, each card is on quality stock with a black border surrounding the image and the title. The image fills the card with an icy logo-ed title at the bottom - this time, no credits. To give it a quality, anniversary feel, the set has been given a high gloss finish. The once standard US method of numbering the cards and attendant NSS information is no longer evident and what is surprising is that both the MGM and Fox (distributors for the US and UK respectively) logos are evident bottom right and left, perhaps making it a truly International card set.

With "Casino Royale" came a new studio, a new Bond to highly vocal negative and positive reaction during production but nearly universal acclaim upon release, and a new rendering of what was to make a Bond film successful in the face of TV series '24' and the Bourne films providing popular fare across viewing publics. Perhaps due more to ensuring a solid awareness of new Bond Craig, paper marketing was back in full force with a full range of posters, solid magazine style presskits in both the US and UK, and UK Marketing Guides reminiscent of the old Pressbooks and Campaign books. With such production in full swing, it was not surprising that a set of lobby cards was also produced. What was surprising was that this set of 12 came with both portrait and landscape presentations of cards. This together with some of the cards offering two images in one card and two title cards showcasing the International A and B campaign posters made for a set of varying artistic merit. Knowledge of Sony's other lobby card output is scarce so perhaps this is a norm for this studio; suffice it to say the Spiderman 3 set offered a similar presentation. The card stock is of a quality thickness and there is no NSS numbering on the cards as per US historical output.

Even though these cards were produced by the US and were offered as a US set for domestic use, a question does arise as to the inclusion of the two International poster designs for the title cards. One would normally have assumed that the US poster artwork would have been used but in the face of globalization, is this a direction whereby the entire world will look the same as evolution and cost saving measures means, in this case, one set will accommodate all? Or perhaps all UK and US produced lobby sets are now meant as English language International sets, irrespective of where they are printed.

One anomaly for this set is that a deleted scene is included of Bond and Vesper holding each other in the water.

While not necessarily relevant to this article, there was also a set of eight 10x8 lobby cards available but as these were only available from one particular ebay seller residing in Thailand, one's own conclusions can be drawn as to whether these are legitimate or not. A set of 12 FOH cards also surfaced on ebay that were identical in every way to the US / International lobby counterparts. Again, whether these are a legitimately studio produced item or not is unknown at the time of writing. It is also worth bearing in mind for collectors of other modern film lobby cards, as lobby sets are being phased out, Thailand is producing 'lobby sets' in absence of legitimate studio output. One such example here being "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" which found itself with a quality set but that was not legitimate.

"Quantum of Solace" opened powerfully with the smarter critic sets commenting that 'Art House Jason Bond / James Bourne returns', uniquely and smartly showcasing their knowledge of both the director's roots and the fact that key personnel from the Bourne series were to be found contributing to "Quantum". It is also record breaking in that it is the shortest Bond film in history, a direct sequel to the previous Bond film and the first to feature a duet for the theme tune, but it is not the highest grossing Bond film which was, at the time of writing, a claim still held by "Casino Royale".

Incredibly though, the purpose of the article being what it is, it is amazing there was another lobby card set released at all considering the digital push given to marketing. That said, it is a very similar presentation to the "Casino Royale" set meaning there are portrait and landscape cards, some cards featuring multiple images and, this time, just one title card featuring the US 1 sheet artwork as opposed to the previously featured two International artworks - all again, making for a set of randomly aesthetic pleasure. What is also apparent with the Sony sets is that the images chosen were long available from the studio; all were released as part of the campaign to slowly build publicity for the film during production. So it seems strange that it is these images again chosen for the final push. What stands this set apart from the previous film's set is that, like that of "Die Another Day", the cards are printed with a very high gloss finish making it a vastly more luxurious set than that for "Casino Royale". A minor curiosity is that on seven of the cards, the Quantum of Solace film title intrudes on the image and on the remaining four cards, the title maintains a smaller presence and fits within the black border surrounding the image. Quite what is the reasoning for this design decision is anyone's guess.

The comment about the redundancy and as a consequence, the added expenditure involved in producing these sets is relevant. In the UK, a set has yet to be seen by the author actually advertising the film since the days of "Octopussy" back in 1983. What is their use in the UK? Are they used to promote the film in the US? Will another set be produced for the next Bond film in circa 2012? When will paper film posters be faded out in place of screens in the same way advertising posters have been replaced by screens in London's Underground? From a collector's point of view, these are difficult questions indeed.

Many thanks to Simon Firth. Stay tuned to MI6 for more Lobby Card commentary. All photographs graciously provided by the author.

About The Author
Simon has been interested in the world of Bond since 1981 whereupon a halfhearted attempt to collect something formed the basis for a collection. Working for a living financed further forays into the more expensive side of collecting but, as life would have it, this coincided roughly with the explosion of Bond sales through auction houses such as Sotherby's and Christies with the unfortunate result that, he never really caught up.

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