Signage at the Cinema

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in Advertising, Insight

For those who have attended a movie at the theater lately, you may have noticed a bit of change in the ambiance in the lobbies and hallways. Digital signage is quickly making it’s way into Hollywood with the introduction of digital media displays in theaters and cinemas. These venues are frequented by millions of Americans each year. In fact, the movie and entertainment industry is even larger in other parts of the world than it is here in the United States. With that being said, this post will delve into a few of the ways in which the cine can benefit from digital message boards.

Gathering Place for Large Amounts of Humans

At a large theater at the mall or some other shopping center venue, large amounts of people are often to be found. Targeting these groups with specific messages for branding is easy with a bit of dynamic signage. During new releases, especially those whose advertising has created quite a buzz, there can be large groups of people waiting to enter the theater (I can think of “cult following” films like Harry Potter and Star Wars where this was particularly true). During these instances of large traffic, large amounts of people can be influenced very quickly by the digital message boards installed in the theater venue.

Theaters Have Restrooms

Of course they do. It’s a move theater. Besides, what public space doesn’t have restrooms. I’m sure they would be breaking some sort of construction code. Restroom signage is not new, but it is also not being fully utilized like it could be. The space in many restrooms is left blank while a semi-captive audience mingles, staring blindly into space. When I’m in the restroom I may not be super “captive.” I often pretend aloofness while keeping to myself. Being entertained by a screen installed either in the mirrors or above the restroom urinals would certainly be helpful in keeping the mood and atmosphere within the theater.


Many go to the theater as a place to entertain for both family and other social activities. And when persons attend these venues they often are expecting to have a “night on the town” and to spend a little money. As a result, the tickets alone are often not enough for what they are attempting to accomplish. Attendees are going to need popcorn, licorice, soda pop and a litany of other unhealthy junk foods before they enter into the theater. These delectable delights can be promoted by some easily installed digital menus placed above the concession stand. Enough said. We all get the point here.

“Now Playing” and “Coming Soon”

If you’re familiar with movie theaters in any country, you have certainly seen the backlit signs advertising for flicks “now playing” and for “coming attractions.” They have been an important part of movie theaters for years. If you were in a movie theater lobby or hallway and did not see them, you may–consciously or unconsciously–think the place a bit naked. This is one benefit of DOOH when it comes to movie theaters is that these signs can easily be replaced by the digital counterpart.

Unfortunately, they are a bit more expensive, but they do not have to replace every sign in the building. The theater owners can simply choose to replace a percentage of the signs with HD digital signs. The rest of the signs can remain static. There are huge benefits to this methodology. The biggest is that the dynamic signs have the ability to draw more attention. Secondly, they can rotate through advertisements about the current and future films as well as the current and future items offered at the concessions stands. They can also advertise for gift cards for birthdays, special events, or any other additional service the theater may provide.

Similar Venues

Very similar to cinemas and theaters are orchestra and concert halls–both rock and classical. Entertainment venues can benefit greatly from an influx of dynamic digital message boards. I attended an orchestra about a year ago and was impressed by their acceptance of technology with LCD installed throughout the lobby. These displays advertising for up-and-coming orchestra events as well as other events to happen at the hall. They were not running any specific software (in fact, I’m fairly sure they were simply rotating through a DVD player loop), but the messages were delivered clearly to a very large audience.

There can be many reasons to install digital signage. Perhaps some of the best places to do so are in venues meant to provide entertainment to large numbers of guests. Theaters and cinemas are great examples of this.

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