Quick and Dirty Movie Theater Framed Poster




This instructable will show you how to make your very own backlit movie theater poster.

Step 1: Obtain Materials

To make your frame, you will need:

A movie theater poster, printed on both sides- in other words, the back is printed with a mirror-image of the front of the poster to allow light to pass through.

A poster frame to fit said poster (I couldn't find a frame to fit my poster (40x28), so I had to trim it.

A flourescent lamp assembly with switch (I swiped mine from an under-shelf lamp from Wal*Mart)

Corrugated Cardboard

Duct Tape

Rubber Cement

Tape Measure
Utility Knife

Step 2: Trim Poster to Fit

Remove the cardboard backing from the poster frame. This will be used to find the area on the poster you'd like visible when the finished project is hung.

Place the cardboard over your poster, covering up the area you'd like framed.

Trace around the cardboard with Sharpie.

Cut from the poster anything outside the traced area, roll up the poster, and put it aside.

Step 3: Piece Together the Light Box Part I

Measure a 2 in. margin on all sides of the cardboard backing, and mark it with Sharpie.

With a utility knife, remove the area within the margin.

Set aside the 2 in. wide cardboard frame and measure the remaining area. In my case, the resulting rectangle of cardboard measured 20x32. It should be approximately equal to the measurements of the poster frame less 4 in.

From another piece of corrugated cardboard, cut the following:

2x - 2.5 in. x (Length of the cardboard rectangle)
2x- 2.5 in. x (Width of the cardboard rectangle)

Retrieve the cardboard frame and duct tape the slats to the inside edges of the frame, perpendicular to the plane of the frame, making sure to tape them securely.

Step 4: Assemble the Light

On the cardboard rectangle, fasten the light fixture approximately in the center, with the bulb held vertically.

Be sure to leave enough slack in the wiring for the switch to reach the edge of the rectangle.

Duct Tape the power cord to the bottom corner of the rectangle.

Step 5: Piece Together the Light Box Part II

Turn the cardboard rectangle over and place it onto the cardboard frame, so it sits on top of the slats with the light fixture facing down.

Secure it with duct tape, and seal off all cracks where light can pass through.

Flip the whole thing over.

Line the switch up with the sidewall where you'd like it to be placed.

Cut a hole in the wall to accomodate the switch, and duct tape into place.

Step 6: Reassembly

Put your poster into the frame and place the light box behind it.

Secure the cardboard with the fasteners on the frame, pinning the poster between the cardboard and the frame.

Hang the poster, plug it in, and enjoy!



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    6 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable! I just made one of these for my Roy Lichtenstein print, and it looks absolutely fantastic.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable! I agree that aluminum foil would be a great reflector and would help protect the cardboard from heat. You should even put a few vent holes in the top to avoid heat buildup. And best would be using two or three small lights (as long as they're nice cool florescents or LEDs). Incidentally, your 28x40" double-sided real movie poster is called a "one-sheet" and yeah, it's not easy finding inexpensive frames that are bigger than 24x36" consumer "poster" size. And 24x36" consumer posters are never double-sided. :-(


    12 years ago

    Thanks for the comments, I put down a layer of aluminum foil and it worked like a gem. The light is just as bright, but is diffused much better across the whole image.

    1 reply

    could you upload a picture of how much better diffused the light is? This is a very interesting instructable I may consider doing. great job


    12 years ago

    One way you can improve the light distribution on the poster would be to use high gloss white "contact brand vinyl paper" both on the cardboard sheet underneath the light bar and add some to the back of the poster. It should reflect more of the light and give a nice even dispersion along the back surface of the poster.

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago

    Acutually, if proper safety precautions are observed aluminum foil would make a better reflector providing a wide diffused light. Great job on this instructable!