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Alvin’s BLADE RUNNER and the fight for art ownership / Tribute to Dan Goozeé

I felt compelled to write about some recent news concerning poster art. While they don’t specifically pertain to Richard Amsel, they’re important nonetheless.

First concerns a legal settlement regarding an original comp by the late, great JOHN ALVIN, done for the film Blade Runner:

"Long Lost Blade Runner Art Recovered"



Pittsburgh, PA (April 8, 2024)— A lawsuit brought by the Alvin Art Estate to halt what the estate claimed was the unauthorized sale of art belonging to the estate has been settled. The estate’s suit was led by Andrea Alvin, wife of movie poster artist and illustrator John Alvin. The settlement confirms ownership by the Alvin Estate of an original painting created in the making of the movie poster for Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. The mixed media painting was a comprehensive, the closest to the final art used in making the key art for the finished Blade Runner movie poster, one of the most recognized sci-fi movie poster images in film history. The outcome will likely be used as a precedent in future lawsuits by artists working to get art back from those who have obtained it without purchase or permission of the artist.

John Alvin and many other artists working as freelancers in the film industry in the 70s, 80s, and 90s had contracts requiring the art be returned to the artist after being used in campaigns. However, there has long been a practice of people “finding artwork”, often removing it from flat files inside a studio, claiming ownership, and selling the art in a gray market. In those cases, the artists neither get the art back nor benefit from the sale of that art.

In the case of the Blade Runner art, Andrea Alvin, who is an artist and was equal partner in Alvin and Associates, discovered the art’s whereabouts when it appeared for sale at auction. She knew by the information included in the auction listing, that it had been purchased from an employee at Warner Brothers. Because Warner Brothers never owned the art, no employee at Warner Brothers could legally claim ownership or have permission or rights to possess and sell the art.

When contacted, Andrea Alvin offered this quote: “The Blade Runner and all artwork created in the process of the film campaigns to which John contributed represent his life’s work. Whether we keep art or it winds up in the collections of fans, these images are his legacy. We are pleased with the outcome, and so happy to now have control over its destiny, which is as it should be.”

Alvin further explains why this lawsuit provides a framework for other artists to recover original art: “Where the conflict comes in, and where people get confused, is there’s a difference between owning the publication rights and intellectual property, and owning the art itself. The settlement supports the idea that it’s possible to get art back into the rightful hands of the artists and creators.”

As a requirement of the settlement, the art will be sold through Heritage Auctions in the “Signature Hollywood Auction” to be held on July 13th and 14th of this year.


John Alvin (1948-2008) was an American cinematic artist and painter who illustrated some of the 20th century’s most iconic movie posters, working in the industry for over 35 years. He came into prominence by creating the poster art for Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles in 1974, and went on to design art for over 250 films, creating more images for Spielberg productions than any other single artist, including the poster art for Empire of the Sun, The Color Purple, Always, Jurassic Park, and E.T. His poster for Blade Runner, considered by many as one of the top classics of sci-fi, is immediately recognizable around the world. He also supplied specialized work for George Lucas and the Star Wars saga, with Alvin's Star Wars Concert and Star Wars Tenth Anniversary images considered two of the most collectible posters of the entire franchise. He is also recognized for movie poster images from Disney’s New Golden Age. His posters for The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin are in part what led to Disney studio executive Fred Tio coining the phrase “Alvin-izing” in reference to his style. His work have been on display in museums across the world, including the Smithsonian Museum, which exhibited Alvin's art for The Phantom of the Paradise as one of the best posters of the 20th century. John Alvin's career places him as one of the most important figures in film art and Hollywood history. For more information, please visit

Above: John Alvin's comp in preparation for the final Blade Runner poster.

I’ve known John Alvin’s widow, Andrea, for a number of years, and she provided an insightful interview for the Amsel documentary back in the summer of 2018. That was a difficult time in my life – it was my first return to the east coast following my father’s memorial – and Andrea’s kindness meant a lot to me.

We spoke at length about Richard’s work, and the similar challenges faced by illustrators’ estates about the proper ownership and legal rights to their work. This Blade Runner victory has been a hard-won battle by Andrea, and was a long time coming. This piece, which was a polished comp John Alvin created in preparation for the final poster, represents both an iconic image for the legendary film, and an intriguing look into the artist’s process. (I remember first seeing this comp on the cover of Criterion’s early laserdisc release.)

Above left: Alvin's final poster for the film's 1982 release. Right: Alvin's revised version, done in 2000.

I’ve alluded to a similar fight we’re undertaking regarding Richard Amsel’s work. It’s one of the reasons my documentary has taken so long, but I’m absolutely undeterred.

As Andrea’s shown, some battles are worth fighting for.


R.I.P.: Dan Goozeé (1943-2024)

Finally, I wanted to pay tribute to the late Dan Goozeé, who passed away this week. Besides his work as a fine artist and with Disney Imagineering, he had a notable career in film advertising, including posters for Crocodile Dundee, Superman IV, Star Wars, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and three James Bond films with Roger Moore: Moonraker, Octopussy, and A View to a Kill.

I met Goozeé a number of years ago during an artist’s panel at the Autry Museum, and it was only then that I learned he was also the artist behind two of my favorite film posters of the 1980s: 1981’s fantastical Clash of the Titans, and Roland Joffe’s 1986 religious epic The Mission. (The latter poster, with its haunting image of a Christian missionary falling from an impossibly high waterfall, instantly evokes Ennio Morricone’s majestic score.)

My deepest sympathies to Goozeé's family and friends.


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