Where do movie and TV miniatures go?
May 27, 2007 3:22 PM   Subscribe

What happens to models and miniatures after the movie is done or the show is cancelled?

Having recently watched the Space: Above And Beyond DVDs, I'm curious as to what the studio (and studios in general) do with the models and miniatures of the various space craft used in production. Are they archived somewhere? Sold? Destroyed?

And, if they're around somewhere, can they be obtained?
posted by Thistledown to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Usually they're put into storage, along with the costumes, because they might be useful in future productions of other shows.

Sometimes they get given to museums. A few have ended up in the Smithsonian.

I don't think they get given or sold to fans.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:30 PM on May 27, 2007

They often get put on display in the production studio, same as how a graphic design firm usually has prints of it's higher-profile work on the walls as a kind of walk-about resume in the areas where potential clients are met.

Sometimes, the artist might take them home or they might be given to a member of the production team, but this is rarer - something you'd see in very small close-knit teams more than corporate productions, where such things would be regarded as assets, requiring process and paperwork to authorise a change ownership.

Also rare, but can happen, is a donation to a charity auction.

Plus all the stuff already mentioned above.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:46 PM on May 27, 2007

if you are in los angeles, try to get onto one of the studio lots and into the prop houses. a lot of stuff can be found in there, available for you to use.

the warner lot is an easy mark, they rent props, so you can call in ahead, get on the list for the gate and drive right onto their lot while the tourists go through metal detectors (and unless you're very very obviously a tourist you should have no problems exploring the whole lot as well. the security there is all smoke and mirrors - the same cannot be said for universal's people).

you will of course find rather mundane items in these prop houses but they are gigantic in size and scope.

also go to that german restaurant near the 10 freeway in silverlake. (not the lion thing, the other one. anyone know the name?) it used to be owned by the late set builder of billy wilder and all the memorabilia and set pieces in there make it look like a medival castle on steroids. good food too, though the three or so times I was there, the place was always dead.
posted by krautland at 3:49 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't think they get given or sold to fans.

Sometimes they do. The queen alien from Aliens ended up in private hands and was borrowed back for A4 or AVP. Or I might be thinking of the Space Jockey's ship being borrowed back from a private owner for Aliens. Or both. It's in the commentary tracks on the newer quadrilogy set, anyhow.

Other times they're destroyed. Discovery from 2001 was destroyed by Kubrick precisely so that it would not appear in other movies. They had to recreate an entirely new model from the original film for 2010.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:52 PM on May 27, 2007

A lot of that stuff is recycled and used in other productions. I remember reading an article--complete with photos--about the hourglass from The Wizard of Oz. It was used in scores of other movies throughout the years.
posted by HotPatatta at 4:05 PM on May 27, 2007

Paramount recently auctioned off a ton of original Star Trek props, models, and costumes. There is even a History Channel documentary about it, which covers how the items were previously stored in a warehouse, prepared for sale, and who bought them.

Paramount said they held the auction because there were no plans to film any further episodes/movies from the older series, and preferred the items get into the hand of fans who would truly appreciate them. Or maybe they just wanted to make a bunch of money.
posted by falconred at 5:11 PM on May 27, 2007

There's a good series of posts on Neato Coolville about the disposition of the original Death Star: Episode 1 - Episode 2 - Episode 3
posted by jessenoonan at 6:16 PM on May 27, 2007

I thought 2001's Discovery hung in the atrium of CNN's headquarters for years and years because ol' Ted Turner bought the rights (and the props) when he acquired MGM's back catalog. I remember seeing it hung high above the escalators when I took a tour of his news facilites in the mid-1990s.
Can anyone verify this?
posted by Dizzy at 9:45 PM on May 27, 2007

Yeah, as the Internet has grown, it seems that a lot of props/ sets have found their way into private collections. But prior to that, generally most sets were struck and the the majority of the stuff was destroyed because no-one knew that people would pay hard money for the stuff.

I suspect that from this point forward, that won't be the case.
posted by quin at 11:06 PM on May 27, 2007

Way late, but in case Dizzy sees this:

That was probably the recreated Discovery model from 2010.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:54 PM on June 23, 2007

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