Opening the vault: 40+ years of movie poster collecting on view, for sale Saturday

Brian Ofstedahl holds up a cast signed “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” poster. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

by Andrew Alonzo |

As the owner of Amelie and vice president of the Claremont Village Marketing Group, Brian Ofstedahl has often been asked to participate in the VMG-sponsored monthly Claremont Art Walk. He could never imagine Amelie doubling as an exhibit space though, so he’s declined.

But after learning the Laemmle Claremont 5 Theatre has been involved in recent art walk events, he got an idea to showcase some of the rarest, most valuable pieces in his vast movie poster collection, which he has been assembling for well over 40 years.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 1, Ofstedahl will show — and offer for sale — about 150 of his treasures at the Laemmle in a show he’s called “Absolutely Authentic Movie Posters.” He will donate 20% of the proceeds to the Laemmle, with the hope that the funds help in the effort to keep the Claremont theater open.

Among the featured “lobby cards” are “Gone with the Wind” (1939), “Rocky” (1976), “Jaws” (1975), “Traffic” (2000), “Good Will Hunting” (1997), “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “The Lion King” (1994), and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991). He’ll also show the impossibly rare original poster for “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” (1983) which initially featured the words, “Revenge of the Jedi.” The title was swapped after creator George Lucas decided true Jedis would never seek revenge, Ofstedahl explained.

Brian Ofstedahl with his rare, original “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” poster, which initially featured the words “Revenge of the Jedi.” Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

“There are a lot of copies and reproductions out there, and I can absolutely say that I do not own one copy or a reproduction — these are all real,” Ofstedahl said. “These are what [were] on display in the actual movie theaters, period.”

The Courier dropped by Ofstedahl’s home on Tuesday to view the array. What’s going up Saturday is only a fraction of the 1,000-plus posters he’s collected over the decades. Most came from his time ripping tickets and managing at the Montclair Plaza Cinema in the 1980s. Others were bought from sales and auctions.

“I pared it down to the ones that I thought would be the most that people would connect with,” he said. “I have classics to cult, James Bond, Indiana Jones, from Oscar winners to children’s titles. I mean, there’s really something for just about everyone.”

Cinema has always been a part of Ofstedahl’s life. In his youth, he and his mother frequented the Alex Theater in Glendale, fostering his affection for the art form. He later attended film school and has written, directed, and produced cable TV shows. Today, the Laemmle has become Ofstedahl’s go-to theater.

“One of the jokes that people say about me is the Laemmle is my second office because I have to see what’s new,” he said.

As a lifelong cinephile and longtime collector, Ofstedahl has also come to appreciate the creativity and attention to detail of movie poster art. “I think movie posters are definitely an art form,” he said. “I mean the artists, the photographers, their job is to get you to want to go see that movie in just a page image.”

Ofstedahl’s enthusiasm for the show and sale is palpable. It’s also something brand new, as it’s the first time he’s had a public showing of his decades in the making collection.

Amelie owner and Claremont Village Marketing Group VP Brian Ofstedahl will show and sell some of the rarest, most valuable pieces in his vast, 40-plus years in the making movie poster collection at the Laemmle Claremont 5 Theatre as part of July’s Claremont Art Walk.

“This is something that excites me because I’m sharing my passion with others,” he said. “And if I see other people join in with that kind of, ‘Oh, this is cool, love it,’ I don’t care if I sell one piece. That’s not my goal: I’m going to show film history because I love it. It’s my passion project.”

“Absolutely Authentic Movie Posters” runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 1, during the Claremont Art Walk at the Laemmle Claremont 5 Theatre, 450 W. Second St.


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