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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Large Format Printing: Observations on Movie Theater Standees

As noted in prior PIE Blog articles, in addition to other custom printing related pursuits, I install “standees” and signage at movie theaters. This gives me first-hand access to many printed products I otherwise would not see. I’d like to make a few observations that you may find useful, whatever kind of custom printing products you yourself may buy.

Printing on Vinyl

Among other signage I install, static clings are an interesting custom printing product. They stick to glass with no adhesive, just because of their static charge.

I have noticed a few things about these transparent plastic signs:

  1. They appear to be printed via custom screen printing technology. I had initially thought that inkjet would be the main mode of production, so I checked with a loupe (high-powered printing magnifier). The images had a distinct dot pattern, and the dot pattern was closer to the rosettes of offset printing than to the minuscule scattered spots indicative of inkjet printing. I knew that offset printing was not an option. After all, an offset press could not hold sheets of vinyl flat enough to carry them through the print rollers.
  2. Another reason I judged the production method to be custom screen printing was the thickness and vibrancy of the ink, especially the opaque white ink. In fact, all the colors seemed to be opaque (unlike offset custom printing). I was also impressed by the crispness of the 4-color photographic images as well as the reasonably fine line-screens used for the halftones.
  3. Totally unrelated to printing, but very related to marketing goals, I’m not so sure how long static clings will stay up. Consider this before you choose static clings as a marketing vehicle, and do your own research. Upon my return to some of the theaters, I noticed that the static clings had peeled up or fallen off the windows. That said, if you’re using these signs as a temporary advertising item, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Wooden Sticks to Stabilize Portions of Diecut Standees

Somebody had been using his or her head, maybe even while they had been eating.

Fragile portions of standees (usually the diecut figures attached to the large graphic panels) often are made rigid with chopsticks glued to the back of the corrugated board. Keep in mind that many of the figures attached to the backgrounds have arms, legs, etc., that otherwise would have no support and could be easily dented, bent, or ripped off. By using a hot-melt glue gun to attach wood chopsticks in various configurations to the backs of the images, those who produce the standees had strengthened them quite a bit. By now I have seen 20 or more individual standees with this structural addition.

How does this affect you? If you’re designing three-dimensional point-of-purchase displays, use your imagination. Think about making fragile parts of your structures more resilient. If the displays must be shipped, choose something light to save on postage—like a chop stick.

Packaging Is Key

This is one problem of which standee creators seem a bit unaware. Fifty pieces of cardboard in a large carton move around. If these pieces are square cut, they will be reasonably safe, but with diecut fingers and toes, the figures attached to the background graphic panels of standees often get mashed before the job arrives at the theater. This can minimize the effectiveness of any point-of-purchase display. Think about it. If you come upon a giant Star Wars standee at a theater and all the main characters are dented, bent, and creased, that takes away from the overall “wow” factor.

So consider this in your print buying work, because it actually relates to all kinds of printing. Make sure your commercial printer packages the final job well. This goes double for fragile work. If you’re printing a book, you may ask that the covers be varnished, or perhaps you could request shrink-wrapping of a certain number of copies in the cartons. Or even paper slip sheets between every five or ten copies (within the cartons) would help. After you have paid dearly for a good custom printing job, why let the printed pieces be damaged in transit?

Access Holes in Standees

If you look closely at a standee from behind at a movie theater, you’ll see a remarkable thing: multiple holes the size of a teacup saucer. You might think these are to lighten the product, and this might well be a side effect. After all, standees are quite heavy when assembled, and they often must be moved.

But the real reason for the holes is to give the installers access to the interior of the standee. This makes it possible to affix one piece to another with screws or diecut tabs. You can get your hands into the guts of the structure to attach everything that needs to be attached.

Now you may be asking how this pertains to you, particularly if you buy book printing or brochures or posters. In this case it probably doesn’t, but if you design or print any three-dimensional products, it behooves you to consider how they will actually be assembled and used.

For instance, maybe you’ve been tasked with producing a cardboard point-of-purchase display that will hold stacks of magazines at a political convention. It happens. I did this once for a client. In cases like these, it is prudent to remember that a point-of-purchase display is an object, not just a marketing design. You need to consider its physicality. You need to consider the stress points (i.e., will the weight of the magazines eventually cause the display to cave in?). You need to consider the weight (shipping costs add up). And you need to consider the ease of assembly—and probably other things as well.

If you buy custom printing for a three dimensional cardboard object like a display box, have a prototype made. It’s much better to use it, bang it around a little, and find out what will go wrong—before you buy 1,000 copies and have them sent all across the country.

4 Responses to “Large Format Printing: Observations on Movie Theater Standees”

  1. Mike says:

    I work at a large format printing company in NH called MegaPrint and one of the many products we print on is the Cling material you mentioned in the first section of this article.

    Our cling material, when properly applied, will hang for many years. For instance we have several cling prints in the office that have been hanging for over 4 years now.
    If you are seeing cling material starting to fall off, they may need to print on a higher quality material.

    If you have any questions about this feel free to contact us.



    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your taking the time to write to PIE.

      The static cling material I installed seemed not to stay up for very long, so perhaps the product was not of the highest quality.

      Would the difference in temperature between the two sides of the window make a difference? In one movie theater, one side of the window on which the static cling had been installed was inside the theater in a heated environment, and the other side of the window was outside in winter weather. So the two sides of the window were exposed to very different temperatures, although the cling was inside and warm.

  2. Rocketsigns says:

    Digital print is one of the fastest growing sections within the printing industry. It is finding more and more applications as speeds go up and costs come down.


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