There’s something quite romantic about movie ticket stubs. They serve as reminders of the time you went to see Jurassic Park with dad, or when you first held hands with your school sweetheart in the safety of the dark cinema hall.
Ben Smith covets these little bits of paper more than most – and holds on to them as a small way of preserving memories. “I could tell you the picturehouse I visited to see every movie I’ve ever seen, and almost the seat I sat in,” he says.
Being a lover of film, cinema and design, Smith laments the movement towards utilitarian till receipts with their heartless QR codes. Before the printed movie ticket disappears entirely, “it’s an important time to start archiving these beautiful bits of ephemera,” he says.
Earlier this month, Smith decided to take a step towards documenting ticket designs by setting up an online archive, that can be viewed on Instagram @ticketsplz. The aim is to collect stubs from all over the world, and from as far back as possible.
He’s managed to find quite a few vintage tickets online, some of which are hard to date but he believes one of the oldest in his current collection is a 1938 Snow White stub from the Whittier Theatre in LA (below).
Smith has collected some real gems so far such as a ticket to The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night at the Century’s Huntington in New York and a 1977 ticket for the Orchard Theatre in Singapore.
His personal favourite, however, is a Hunger Games Odeon ticket. “The vendor accidentally printed a ticket for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, then crossed it out and had to scribble on my new seat number,” he tells CR. “It’s not the most in interesting piece of design, but I adore the small eccentricities and the story behind it.”
Tickets Plz welcomes submissions and Smith has been pleasantly surprised at just how many contributions have come in so far.
“It’s been great to see there are other obsessive collectors like me out there!” he says. “To keep this archive alive I’m looking for as many submissions as possible, so please send your scans in! What may seem familiar and everyday to one person, can be a fascinating glimpse at another culture for someone else.”
If you have a ticket you would like to submit to the @TicketsPlz archive, Smith can be reached via email on email@example.com
Ben Smith is founder of independent film magazine, Shelf Heroes. Tickets Please can be found on Instagram @ticketsplz and Twitter @tkts_plz