Film buff and former soldier Wil Wright is turning his Sumner home into a gallery of his more than 12,000 original film posters.
As far as the avid collector knew, it would be the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“There’s a few private
collectors around, but they
don’t really have them out on display.”
The gallery would open this summer in the home he and his wife had moved into over Christmas.
Viewing would be free, by appointment and in every room except the “bedrooms and bathrooms.”
“It’s hard to get it all out on display, we’ve got about 12,000 plus pieces in the collection,” Mr Wright said.
The former British Army gun-smith said he started his collection more than 20 years ago with a poster from classic John Wayne World War 2 film The Longest Day.
“I was raised on the old black and white movies by my father, and that always stuck with me. The old posters had some fantastic artwork, painted by artists, it’s all cast montages these
Mr Wright spent 14 years in the British Army including service with the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment in Sierra Leone and five months of 2003 during the opening stages of the second Gulf War in Iraq with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.
After returning from Iraq the film-buff got a job through a friend in the United Kingdom’s film industry, teaching actors how to convincingly use prop weapons on the sets of productions like Atonement, Flyboys, The Golden Compass and Dr Who.
Three years later, he was accepted for the New Zealand Defence Force and moved to Burnham, along with his collection.
After leaving military life behind in 2011, Mr Wright spent three years as a project manager at the Art Centre before leaving in 2014 to make a career out of his collection and gallery.
Collecting original film posters is not common in New Zealand Mr Wright said, and he hoped opening the gallery would encourage appreciation for the original material. “You can buy a print of anything, but that’s just a print. It has no age to it, no story.”
One of his favourite pieces is from pre-World War 1 medieval drama Ivanhoe.
“It’s from 1913 and quite rare, I think there’s only three of them left . . . it’s 105 years old and it looks like a work of art.”
He also has a poster from 1937 adventure film The Mysterious Pilot, about the real exploits of famed aviator Frank Hawks.
As it is possibly the last example of the poster, it had needed extensive restoration.
“Our main focus is to save these things which weren’t meant to survive,” Mr Wright said.
None of the prints on display were for sale, Mr Wright said
Funding would come from selling duplicates on his website.
“But, if anyone has anything hidden away, please let us know. We’ll buy it off them to restore and display it.”