One of only five known surviving British film posters promoting the 1953 Hollywood movie of The War of the Worlds is expected to sell for up to £12,000 on April 22.
The poster, consigned by the person who bought it in 1953, at a local cinema when the film was released, will be offered by Ewbanks Auctions in their Vintage Posters sale.
Its as though the poster has come home, says Ewbanks partner and specialist Alastair McCrea. The whole story is set locally, with the Martians in H.G. Wells story landing on Horsell Common before attacking Woking, which is our local town.
Paramount Pictures film transferred the initial action to Southern California in the United States, while the poster is dominated by one of the fantastic Martian space ships, whose iconic design did so much to influence science fiction movies of the period.
Along with Wells earlier story, The Time Machine, and Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, The War of the Worlds has a credible claim as the inspiration for the whole science fiction genre that followed, says McCrea. Certainly, it was the first alien invasion story, from which so many others originated.
Most famously, just 15 years before this film was released, Orson Welles sparked mass panic among the US population with his live news style version of the story on radio because the audience did not realise that it was a dramatisation.
Why the invading Martians were really British
Never out of print and a significant influence on the NASA programme, especially the Apollo missions, The War of the Worlds was inspired by another alien invasion, that of the British in Tasmania, with its resulting catastrophic effects on the indigenous people there.
So it turns out that we are really the Martians, says McCrea.
The first of a two adaptions for the big screen Tom Cruise starred in an updated 2005 version the 1953 film won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
The 30 x 40 inch quad poster itself, created for the British release of the film, is a rare survivor after nearly 70 years.
While it is fairly easy to find reproduction copies of this unique design, the original WE Berry printed version is as rare as hens teeth, says McCrea. This is the style B design, which is the only one, apart from the US half sheet, that features the Martian space ship and is in good condition for its age. As such, it is one of the most sought-after science fiction film posters by collectors.
Live online bidding will be available via www.ewbankauctions.co.uk