Not far from Siam's old-school cinemas Lido and Scala, you'll find another treasure trove for film buffs. Known as “the movie poster guy,” Santi ‘Ti’ Tuntipantarux, 57, worked in an ad agency for 17 years before quitting his job 20 years ago. Since 1997, he’s run a tiny store in Siam Square called Classic Movie Posters. A longtime collector of movie artwork, Ti turned his passion into a career, and despite his store’s minute size, has posters for sale that are worth tens of thousands of baht. Watch our video and read our interview where he shares the story behind his business.
Why movie posters? What drew you to collect them?
I love watching movies, but instead of collecting films like other people do, I went for the posters. It started when I was in vocational school. I studied art at Thaivichitsilp Art School and had to paint as homework. At that time, I was not a great painter. I was a total beginner. I had no idea where to start and I didn’t have my own style. I needed to find references. I remembered that one day I came across a movie poster and really loved the colors it used. I thought, this could just help me learn how to select the colors for my paintings. It’d be fun. I was happy that I found a way to join the thing that I loved with something that I had to do.
Tell us about the first poster you bought.
While seeking examples for coloring and painting techniques, I went to see this cowboy film called California at the Mackenna theater near Huachang Bridge. The theater was run by a guy named Charoen whose descendant now owns SF cinemas. It was a small budget movie, not a blockbuster, but I was really into it from the moment I saw the poster. I was like, “This is it, this is the one.” I asked Charoen if I could have it. We talked for a bit and, after I finished my story, he agreed to give it to me. But he could only let me have it once the film had finished screening. I was cool with that agreement. I was very happy about it.
How come you ended up running this business?
Twenty years ago, the company I worked for was badly affected by the Tom Yum Goong crisis. I decided to quit that job because I saw no other choice. I wasn’t that highly educated, just a guy with a vocational certificate, so I followed my heart. I opened this shop because it was the only thing that I knew about. I knew who to go to to get the stuff I wanted, and there was no one else doing this business despite their being demand in the market. This isn’t like selling CDs and DVDs; these are goods for a specific group of people. Money isn’t everything compared to the joy I get from finding a rare poster.
What are your most treasured posters?
In my personal collection I have original posters for the 1966 Batman movie, Cleopatra from 1963 and The King and I . I’m never going to sell them.
What’s your favorite movie?
The Godfather is my all time favorite film. The plot is brilliant. But my favorite actor is Bruce Lee. I have my own collection of Bruce Lee movie posters, including his one and only Hollywood film with Warner Brothers, Enter the Dragon (1973). I’ve got the original poster of the film. Lots of foreigners who visit my shop are always amazed by the stuff I’ve got in this little place. What is the rarest and the most valuable poster you have? Right now, it’s an original of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is worth B60,000. The film was revolutionary in sci-fi history. The sci-fi geeks nowadays dream of owning the original poster, which is hard to find. But I got it.
Where do you source these posters?
Every year, all the big film studios will auction their posters, and all the poster stores in America will be there to buy them. Fortunately, I have a connection with the biggest poster shop in America to get me stuff. I’ve been in this industry for ages, as a customer before becoming a seller, so it’s not that hard for me. On top of that, it’s much more fun now that I can buy lots of posters, finding things that I want while also helping others find their dream posters.