Decorating with Movie Posters

Since a home theatre is all about creating a movie theatre experience, what wall decoration pops in to mind from your last trip to the movie theatre?  As my older brother used to say, three guesses and the first two don’t count – movie posters!

There’s more to choosing movie posters than one would have ever dreamed.  You’ll hear the term single sheet used , which means there is one poster on the sheet. That’s the standard size of 27 x 40 inches, the most common size.  Older posters also came in half sheets and lobby cards, but were eventually standardized to one sheets to reduce costs.

Poster Types

There are two types of movie posters, double-sided and one-sided.  Prior to the mid-1980’s, one-sided movie posters were used, which were standard posters with printing on one side and a plain white back side. These can be hung in standard poster frames.

Then we have the double-sided movie posters – those are the big, backlit posters you’re used to seeing in movie theatres.  Not only is the poster printed on the front, but the same artwork is on the back, reversed and in a lighter shade.  The paper is also thicker than the older posters.  The reverse printing, when backlit, gives a more realistic look to the poster.  So how do you get the backlighting?

Poster Frames

Those lighted poster boxes don’t come cheap, they run from $400 - $900.  They’re officially known as a backlit poster light boxes and they have a rear mounted light source with a diffuser plate.  There are DIY instructions available to try it on your own, but they are fairly difficult for a common do-it-yourself project.  Besides, any project involving electricity, I consider an accident waiting to happen.  The materials for the DIY project run in the $150-$200 range.

For mounting and framing with a standard poster frame, make sure you use non-glare materials for the frame and the glass.  Not only do framed posters look nicer, but they also protect the poster itself. 

If your budget restraints nixed the backlit poster box, you can always go with a budget option of a picture light, simple accent lighting over the frame.

Vintage Movie Posters

If you’re not up to building a poster light box, and purchasing one is out of your budget, consider sticking with a one sided poster.  This opens up a whole new area for home theatre decorating – vintage movie posters.  There are many on the secondhand market to choose from.  Entire websites devoted to vintage posters and Ebay are good starting points.

If choosing movie posters to decorate your home theatre, you’re not alone, it’s one of the most popular decorations for home theatres.