CGMagazine sat down with Executive Vice President of Premier Props to discuss their upcoming auction featuring props from the Resident Evil movie franchise.
Since 2002, the Resident Evil film franchise has graced screens across the globe and 15 years later, the franchise and legacy is coming to an end. Despite this, fans should be excited because that means they will get a chance to own a piece of Resident Evil thanks to Premiere Props Auction House in El Segundo, California. The 15-year-old company started their business with the first Resident Evil film and since then has represented over 500 movies in auctioning off costumes and props. Now that the Resident Evil films are ending, Premiere Props will be auctioning off over 600 pieces spanning the whole franchise on Jan. 28, 2017. CGMagazine got a chance to interview the Executive Vice President of Premiere Props, Dan Levin, on the auction and get the inside scoop on their how their company functions.
CGMagazine: How did you get into the auction business?
Dan Levin: We started about 15 years ago by collecting anything that was coin operated. Anything video game related, pinball machine related etc. It kind of just morphed into a collectable business. We actually formed the first live auction with movie props and pinball machines and video games and that’s how it launched in Los Angeles. We realised there was a demand for movie props on their own and for the last 15 years we’ve been working with studios and working with productions like Resident Evil and Underworld and different films that came out theatrically. We represent the props and costumes for those movies and we’ll actually truck in the entire movie. Cars, costumes, set items; we pretty much cover everything.
CGM: How do you procure these items and does the money go to the studio?
Levin: We work with studios and individual collectors so the money goes back to pay for production costs. If it’s for an individual collector, then that money goes back to them.
CGM: How much does your auction house take for doing this?
Levin: We’re paid by the studio—it’s a little different for marketing—and we restore for them and do a lot of different services for them.
CGM: In terms of the Resident Evil stuff, is this the first time you’re getting something from those films?
Levin: Our company actually started with the Resident Evil franchise, it was one of the first movies we started with. We started with the first film and we’re going to be doing this auction on the 28th, which will encompass not only the last movie but all the movies since the first. Over time we’ve handled the films and a lot of the props and costumes are used and repurposed in a lot of different movies so they were pretty much archived and in use for all the films and now, it’s the first time that we’re going to be auctioning everything from every one of the movies. It’s a pretty spectacular event. These are probably (for our collectors) one of the two movies (including Underworld) that are the favourites.
CGM: What makes Resident Evil and Underworld the bigger sellers?
Levin: It’s the amazing costumes and the detail of the costumes and props, that’s what’s most interesting to collectors and fans. What they’re seeing on screen is done so well and when they’re buying the props and costumes they’re actually getting that quality that they see on screen. They’re (the costumes) all hand-made, everything is so detailed and they’re just super incredible, that’s why I think those are popular. They’re also futuristic films and it just resonates so much with collectors, they seem to gravitate more to the sci-fi. Anything science fiction or horror-based tends to sell better.
CGM: Is there anything the studio is keep indefinitely?
Levin: There will be some pieces kept for archives but very few. We have everything pretty much, it’s the best of the best that we have. We’ve never had this incredible amount of props and costumes before in a Resident Evil auction and we have fans and collectors flying in from out of state to be at the live auction because it’s such a big deal.
CGM: Are you the only auction house that deals with the Resident Evil franchise?
Levin: Yes we are. We’re the only auction house that deals with that. You can’t get this stuff anywhere else. Once this stuff is gone, that’s it. It’s the last movie that they’re making and you’ll never get another costume etc. like this again.
CGM: Are you guys currently getting any offers?
Levin: Yes we are. We actually have bids online and you can place your bids online. Milla’s main costume is already at a proxy bid of $7,000, some of the other costumes are at $6,200. There’s a lot of bidding and there’s a lot of interest right now. When we see bids that early it shows that there’s keen interest.
CGM: How far in advance was this auction planned?
Levin: We’ve been working with them since the inception of this franchise, it’s been a long time. We’ve been working movie-to-movie with them and we decided collectively that this is the right time to do this. We’ve been planning this for the last year.
CGM: Is this the biggest auction you guys have ever done?
Levin: This one auction will be a very big auction so yes, for sure. This auction—and we have an Underworld auction coming up that will also be a very big one—but this (Resident Evil) auction will be one of the biggest one day auctions. We also work closely with Miramax (back when they split from Disney) and we handled thousands of items and that was about a $4 million auction.
CGM: Do you have an estimated value of the whole collection?
Levin: It’s really hard to determine that. For the hero costumes alone we’re looking at $15,000-$20,000. We don’t know what the total will bring.
CGM: What do you think will sell for the highest price?
Levin: The highest priced item is probably going to be Milla Jovovich’s first costume and the last costume in this movie that’s coming out now. Those items could probably go up to even $15,000-$20,000 each. The fans are really going to want the one costume that they’ll always remember her for.
CGM: How do you make the base price?
Levin: What happens is we look at what things have sold in the past. We look at past sales of similar costumes and props in the Resident Evil Franchise so we know what Milla Jovovich’s costumes sold for and we try to give a comparable estimate as to what the past sales were and also give the buyers the ability to really own it and win it. Compared to the market price we take a look and try to bring it down a little bit because we want the market and we want the buyer to be able to get the value that they determine that item should sell for. We really want them to bid and decide who wins it. We kind of let the item find its own home so to speak and give it a way so that everyone has an opportunity.
CGM: What have been some of your most memorable sales?
Levin: We’ve sold the head from the Creature from the Black Lagoon and that was an incredible spectacle. We had the nephew of the man who created the head from the original film and it sold in a live auction for $85,000. It changed his life so much, so that would be one of the most memorable props that sold and we of course we have items that are coming up that we’re excited about. Of course we have Resident Evil but we also have Back to the Future props and costumes that are going to be coming up for our big auction in March. We have things like the hoverboard and other unique stuff coming up.
CGM: What’s the highest something has been sold for?
Levin: Close to $400,000. It was a spaceship from 2001: A Space Odyssey and we sold it to the academy.
CGM: Just to end everything off, what’s the weirdest item that you’ve sold?
Levin: The weirdest item we’ve ever sold was a plunger. It was one that James Spader used and I really didn’t think someone would buy it but they bought it for $50. That was shocking to me because you can go out a buy a plunger for like…$5. That’s when I thought you know what? There’s a business here, it’s all about the fan and it’s all about the actor and it’s all about the movie and there’s a big collector business after that sale.
For anyone wanting to own a piece of movie history, you can make your early bids on Premiere Props’ website.