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Burning Question: Do Stars Really Charge for Photo Ops?

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Sylvester Stallone charges for photos with fans. (Getty Images)

Q: Sly Stallone recently charged $445 for a photo op with fans at New York Comic-Con. Is that what stars demand for a few seconds with the little people these days?

A: Plenty of celebrities pose with fans for free, but it's usually during some public outing involving a red carpet and beady-eyed reporters on the lookout for nasty behavior. Matt Damon, for example, posed gratis with admirers earlier this month in Burbank, but he was there to receive an honor from the Environmental Media Awards.

As for Stallone, he charged $445 for a photo, and $395 for an autograph, because he's Stallone, and he could.

"It was a very limited signing, and he doesn't do events or signings typically," says Kim Mueller, director of content and talent for ReedPOP, which puts on the New York Comic-Con.

However, most stars know better than to pull that kind of japery and hope to get away with it.

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"Totally ridiculous" was how one professional collector put it to me. And that's true, considering that, in this business, paying, say, $200 for a photo is considered an extreme expenditure. For example, that's the rough price you might pay to pose with the cast of "Star Trek: Next Generation," but then again, you're getting a picture with the entire cast of "Star Trek: Next Generation."

"The whole cast in one photo," a professional collector told me. "Stewart, Frakes, Sirtis, McFadden, Dorn, Burton, Spiner."

"The most I've paid personally was $100 for Patrick Stewart at a Wizard World convention in 2011."

In contrast: Anthony Daniels, the guy who played C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy, charges $50 for a photo or autograph. William Shatner — yes, that Shatner — asks for about $80. And at some conventions, you can get two, two, two "True Blood" actresses — Kristin Bauer and Lauren Bowles — for one price of $75.

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"At our show," says David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for the San Diego Comic-Con, "I believe that $100 is the most that anyone has typically charged."

And even that's considered kinda spendy.

"Typically, when we're working with celebrity guests, we try to advise them to stay in the $30 to $40 price range," Mueller tells me. "That's almost like going to the movies, more of a standard-entertainment-type cost. Charging higher means it's a once in a lifetime experience."

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