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Florida Movie Posters


Movie producers have been making films in Florida almost since the dawn of the industry. For a short time in the early twentieth century, Florida even rivaled California as a place for movie making. However, a lack of government support, money, and studio facilities hurt the industry here, and movie companies soon began leaving the area. In 1920, though, when many other studios were heading for Hollywood, Norman Studios set up shop in Jacksonville. Although white-owned, its movies featured all-black cast members, drawing from the large pool of African American actors and studio workers in the area.

Even after most studios had gone to the West Coast, many films still included some scenes shot in Florida. Tarzan swung through the Florida jungles, swimming champion turned actress Esther Williams frolicked on the beaches, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon lurked in the state’s dark and mysterious springs. More recently, major studios, like Universal, Disney, and MGM began moving to the state. Florida now boasts one of the largest movie industries in the country.

Colorful, eye-catching posters advertised films and drew people to the movies. Often, several movie posters, each with a different image, promoted one film. The movie’s marketers designed each image to appeal to a specific audience. Depending on the film, a poster might display a dramatic, heroic, romantic, or funny scene.

By the 1920s, movie advertisers were producing a standard set of promotional materials to market films. The most common poster size consisted of one sheet, 41 inches high and 27 inches wide. Three separate pieces made up the larger, three-sheet poster. Smaller insert posters were tall and narrow. Half-sheets were half the size of a one-sheet poster. Lobby cards usually came in sets of four, six, or eight, and measured eleven inches high by fourteen inches wide.

The posters shown here depict some of Florida’s most famous films from the early 1920s to the present. They are all part of the Museum of Florida History’s permanent collection of Florida movie memorabilia.