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  • Jeff Windmeyer

Affordable Solutions for a High End Look: Movie Theater Interior

In our previous post, we addressed solutions for the exterior of a movie theater. In this post, we will address solutions for the interior to create a high-end and custom look while using very common materials and methods of construction. You have a big screen and tons of seating. Otherwise, theaters are just giant boxes.

Big, giant boxes give us a blank canvas to be creative. Through our process, we have come up with some go-to practices to make every side of the inside reflect the desired atmosphere. Check out the four parts below.


We like to make theatre ceilings disappear to keep the focus on key elements. We do this by using an extremely economical black tile system. The ceiling is treated more like a structure to simply attach building systems to.

Where we do want the ceiling noticed, we introduce light coves or specialty lighting. This eliminates the need for other lighting sources and can save on cost. Guests tend to look at the light effect, not the light itself or the ceiling.

For creating a unique ceiling, one of my favorite products is a plastic plank system formed to look like wood. If your ceiling is twenty feet in the air, most guests will not be able to tell it’s not real wood. It will last forever, costs a fraction of the real material, and has a clean, modern look.


Theaters in the 1950s often had marble wainscoting, ornate wood trim, and intricate plaster. This aesthetic cannot be created economically in today’s industry. We mimic the look using modern, inexpensive products.

Today, tile companies are able to create large sheets of extremely thin porcelain tile, printed with whatever finish and look desired. In order to create a lobby lined with marble, we use sheets of porcelain that look and feel like marble. These are at a fraction of the cost and are quicker to install.

Another go-to product we use is a 3M film. 3M prints massive sheets to look like real wood. We adhere these to entire walls. Then we use wall reveals to create the impression of expensive wood paneling systems. We will also layer simple wood trim pieces on top, to give some depth and recreate the intricate look of traditional theaters.


When it comes to trimmings, we might use wood trim that you can buy from Home Depot. We can layer it up to create a coffered feeling, or a light cove, or many other styles.

We also use paint patterns, to mimic a specific look from a certain time period. The paint patterns might be used to create more depth. If depth has been built in, then you can paint the different spaces different colors and make it look bigger.

In the original motion picture theaters, auditoriums would have an extremely ornate drape pattern on the walls, creating an exceptionally elaborate art deco feel. We cannot create that the same way, but the way we hang drapery on side walls can create a pattern that makes it look like it's an old auditorium.


In lobbies and common areas, we use custom carpet. The company we use can take whatever pattern our client wants and apply it to carpet. One of our client’s themes is an art deco look, so we had an art deco pattern printed into the carpet. This is at the same cost as if we had regular carpet, but reinforces the company brand.

Throughout the rest of the theatre, we use luxury vinyl and carpet tile. By changing the color of these, we can reinforce a certain brand image or feel.

We often use the same product line in every aspect of a theatre, but with color changes it can be made to feel unique.

We believe that when it comes to theater and entertainment, perception is what really drives everything. It’s not about what the material is, whether or not it's the real thing. It’s about creating an atmosphere. It's what the perception of the intended ambiance is.

If you are in need of custom yet inexpensive solutions to make large, blank interiors have high end atmospheres, contact us at 816.599.2350 or We look forward to hearing from you.

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