RAIDERS and INDY-fever...
One of the most popular and widely shared posts on this site was my writeup for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’s 40th anniversary, where I went into some detail about Richard Amsel’s two posters for the film.
As RAIDERS was first released in the USA on June 12th, 1981, and INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY is due to hit theaters worldwide later this month, I’m working on another sneak peek clip from the documentary, which I’ll share soon. It details Amsel’s work for the 1982 rerelease poster, which remains perhaps the most indelible marketing image associated with the series. (But don’t just take my word for it. In 2011, the publication TOTAL FILM expressed the same sentiment, naming Amsel’s rerelease poster as "The Greatest Hand-Drawn Movie Poster of all time".)
Above: Amsel's polished color comp (left) and final poster (right) for RAIDERS' 1982 rerelease.
However, people might be surprised to hear that Amsel himself preferred his original 1981 poster, featuring a closeup of Harrison Ford, over the subsequent poster.
Above: Amsel's polished color comp (left) and final poster (right) for RAIDERS' 1981 release.
I’ve interviewed a number of people for the documentary who were directly involved with RAIDERS’ marketing, including Mike Salisbury and Spiros Angelikas. (I still have my fingers crossed to do more, and have been in contact with a few others for several years. These things can take time.)
When I interviewed Spiros at his home in New Jersey, he gifted me what is probably the rarest thing next to an Amsel original: one of the original RAIDERS posters from the very first print run. Spiros explained that due to timing issues, a proper review of artist’s proofs was not possible. This resulted in the color of first batch of posters looking too subdued and desaturated.
Spiros saw them and was aghast – and knew Amsel would be horrified by how they turned out. So a costly and urgent decision was made: do a nationwide recall of the original print run, and replace them with the corrected, more accurate color scheme.
Most of those original posters were destroyed. You can compare them in the image below. The more colorful, corrected reprinting is at left, while the original, inaccurate printing is on the right. Note that the original version does not feature the serial number and legalese at the bottom that all subsequent posters do.
I have no idea what the estimated value of this poster is, but it’s framed in my office; I’m looking at it now. The sentimental value to me is immeasurable, though, and it will always remind me of that wonderful rainy day I spent in Spiros’ company.
P.S.: A number of people have asked if it was possible to donate and receive rewards perks for combination large and small print together. I’ve just added this option among our giving levels. Amsel's RAIDERS work as featured here are available options.