Fans of director Yimou Zhang′s international mega-production The Great Wall didn’t need to go all the way to the Great Wall of China to have a chance at obtaining a piece of the 2016 film this past week. Auction house Prop Store′s Los Angeles location joined with Legendary Entertainment to offer 477 lots of both key and background costumes, armor, prop weaponry, and set pieces from the first partnering of the United States and China on a giant blockbuster film. The Great Wall is a Chinese dynasty fantasy set at the famous landmark, merging giant battles and action with the mega-sized monster genre, pairing China’s biggest stars with an international cast, backed by a crew from 100 countries. Although the movie received mixed reviews from critics, what can’t be denied are the visual concepts and craftsmanship of New Zealand’s Weta Workshop and Mexican costume designer Mayes Rubeo, who designed imagery for the film never seen before. Check out our review of the movie here at borg back in 2016, along with Abbie Bernstein’s ground-breaking book The Great Wall: The Art of the Film (reviewed here).
Weta Workshop kitted out the armies of The Great Wall with an arsenal of color. The workshop design studio rendered more than a thousand concepts for the film, with 6,000 final weapons used by the key cast and 600 extras, including shields, spears, axes, daggers, crossbows, swords, and arrows featured in the auction. Mayes Rubeo, known for her designs in Thor: Ragnarok and Avatar (and she created costumes for both the original Total Recall and the halted Mouse Guard live-action movie), utilized historic Chinese fabrics, textiles, techniques, hand embroidery and applique, and leathers in each costume with about 18 components per person, all featuring an animal and unique color combination: the blue crane corps, red eagle corps, gold tiger corps, black bear corps, and purple deer corps.
It should be no surprise that the top costume sales went for the two stunning, blue, armored costumes worn by the film’s Chinese star Tian Jing as Commander Lin Mae. Featuring sheathed swords, helmets, leg daggers, feathered suit and hard armor, they sold for slightly more than $9,000 and $17,500 each. Other hero costumes that sold included Matt Damon as William costume variants ($1,687, $2,625, $4,375 and $5,125), The Mandalorian actor Pedro Pascal′s character Tovar’s costumes ($937, $1,625, and $1,687), Willem Dafoe′s character Ballard ($344, $531, $875, and $1,437), General Shao’s (Zhang Hanyu) black armor ($2,187 and $4,500), Commander Wu’s (Eddie Peng) gold armor ($2,750 and $4,250), Commander Chen’s (Kenny Lin) red armor ($2,250 and $3,875), Commander Deng’s (Xuan Huang) purple armor ($1,625 and $3,875), and Strategist Wang’s (Andy Lau) costumes ($1,000 and $2,500). A variety of historically-inspired, ornate hero (lead actor-used) swords ranged from $400 to $3,875 for one of the swords unique to Tian Jing.
Altogether the auction took in roughly $425,000 in sales (about $85,000 reflecting the auction’s buyer’s fee).
Best of all, there was something for everyone from nearly any price bracket, with hero daggers selling at $55. Several complete suits of armor by Weta and Rubeo that cost the studio thousands of dollars to make per unit sold for as low as $687. Dozens of shields featuring bears, tigers, and eagles sold for as low as $250 to an average of $400. Some giant set piece weapons sold for as low as $625. Keep in mind these are professionally designed by world-renowned award-winning professionals, with many hand-crafted components and modern technologies and components, so many buyers got some great deals as the auction wrapped lot by lot between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Friday.
If you have any doubt as to the quality of the costumes, take it from Mythbuster and “guru of all things cool” Adam Savage in this video, where he unboxes one of Prop Store’s suits of armor and shield (his box would have cost a buyer at the auction about $1,500):
The rarest grouping and most sought-after pieces went to the blue crane corps costumes–the elite Cirque de Soleil-esque wall-rapelling team and only women’s armor in the film, selling as high as $3,750 each.
Here’s a brief Weta look at its work on the film:
Check out the Prop Store website here to follow all of its forthcoming TV and movie memorabilia auctions.