Cardboard cutouts create hype in almost any setting imaginable, but they’re especially at home within the world of cinema. For over a century, these displays have been used to drum up excitement for films of all types.

To this day, film buffs love posing for photos alongside cutouts featuring characters from their favorite movies. These photos provide extra movie theater entertainment while also producing a valuable memento to accompany ticket stubs.

From the movie theater’s perspective, cardboard cutouts provide an invaluable opportunity to elevate the customer’s experience. They’re also essential from a marketing standpoint; these displays remind visitors which movies will be released in the near future — and why they’re worth attending. Few marketing initiatives are as impactful or as affordable.

Despite the obvious value of cardboard cutouts, many movie theaters now primarily look to digital marketing to get the word out. Websites and social media platforms are certainly important, but they shouldn’t be expected to carry the weight of customer outreach on their own.

Integrate cardboard cutouts into your marketing effort and you’ll be amazed by how quickly you improve customer loyalty. A core group of highly dedicated customers could make all the difference for your theater, so don’t hesitate to grab their attention with help from eye-catching cardboard cutouts.

Not sure how or where cardboard cutouts should be featured at your theater? In this guide, we’ve highlighted several creative ideas for making the most of these invaluable marketing tools. Keep reading to discover the unmatched potential for cardboard cutouts for indie theaters, major chains, and everything in between.

Tom Holland Movie Star Standee

Small Movie Theaters

If your small theater only highlights a few select films on the marquee, it’s absolutely imperative that you get the word out prior to each and every showing. Still, your marketing budget is probably limited, so you can only dedicate so much to temporary decor. Therein lies the appeal of movie cardboard cutouts, which are affordable enough for your small business to handle but also undeniably impactful.

Place life-sized cutouts near the entrance to your theater, where they can greet guests before or after they purchase movie tickets. Roll out the red carpet to give the setup a dose of Hollywood glamor. Adding quotes to standups or standins can serve a function beyond mere decoration; they can direct attendees to the theater or inform them of your policies. Near the exit, characters from future showings will encourage guests to return.


Movie Theater Chains

Individual locations within vast movie theater chains always run the risk of feeling impersonal. Combat this perception with help from cardboard cutouts, which bring a quirky touch to any location. These can complement or be used in place of movie posters.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the steep discounts available for bulk orders. Your cutouts can then be distributed across several locations. In general, however, these cutouts will serve the same functions described previously: greet moviegoers, inform them of the rules, and get them excited about upcoming films.


Adam Sandler cardboard cutout at movie theater.

Zohan Cut” by Nathan Huth is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Movie Festivals

Get the word out about the next big movie festival with help from cutouts portraying the best films from the upcoming occasion. During the festival itself, freestanding cutouts can be used as convenient decorations or to keep attendees entertained when they’re not absorbed by their favorite movies.

BigHeads can also be entertaining. Feel free to create a photo booth with a vibrant backdrop. There, movie fans can use BigHead cutouts to pose as their character of choice. Encourage visitors to upload any photos taken alongside cutouts to social media, where they can tag the event’s Facebook or Instagram page to let others know about the festival. 


Drive-In Movies

The classic drive-in movie experience may be hard to come by these days, but a few businesses are hanging on for dear life. Customer loyalty is especially important for these often struggling venues, so anything you can do to create a meaningful experience will play in your favor.

Cardboard cutouts are a great option for the entrance area and near the concession booth. These need to be as big and bold as possible, so visitors can easily spot them from the vantage point of their vehicles. Ideally, moviegoers will be compelled enough to get out of their cars and pose for photos.


Epic Movie Nights

Cardboard cutouts work wonderfully for real-world movie theaters, but they can also elevate at-home experiences. Movie marathons, for example, benefit from thematic cutouts, which attendees can pose with between films. They also work when you host guests to binge-watch TV shows. Fun options include:

  • Disney and Pixar, such as Toy Story 4, Lion King, or Encanto
  • Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts
  • Star Wars
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Batman
  • Scary films, like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Gremlins

Cutouts are affordable enough to fit into your themed party budget but sophisticated enough to make a simple party feel like an extravagant affair. BigHeads are also worth printing; each guest can be assigned a cutout depicting a particular character. This is a great accessory, of course, but also the perfect keepsake.


How it Works

No matter where or how you intend to use movie-oriented cardboard cutouts, you’ll be impressed by how easy it is to create and customize these displays. It all begins at the Cardboard Cutout Standees website, where you can easily upload photos of your favorite movie stars.

High-quality images are essential, particularly if you intend to use your cutouts for marketing purposes. Coated cardboard should be sufficient for casual events such as at-home movie marathons, but foam core is preferable for movie theaters. For festivals, drive-in movies, and other outdoor occasions, we recommend corrugated plastic, which is extremely durable.

We offer the chance to add text or even a dry-erase whiteboard. This can make your cutout even more engaging. Our dry-erase option is especially appealing when you want to share helpful information with movie guests. Once you’ve added these extras, you can request edits (such as adding face holes or eliminating shadows).


Make Movie Magic With Cardboard Standups

The best movies immerse you in a completely different world, allowing you to escape your everyday life for a few magical hours. Amplify this effect with help from lifesize cardboard cutouts, which make any movie event feel like a special occasion. Start creating your cutouts today — or reach out to learn more about our customizable products.


  • Jason Frank

    Jason Frank is the Co-Founder and Vice President at Cardboard Cutout Standees. After 25 years of selling factory automation he started the company with one of his college roommates. The company has grown to one of the largest providers of large format custom printed products in the United States. Along with the namesake cardboard cutout standees, they also provide BigHeads, Point of Purchase Displays, Wall Murals, and Wall Decals to a diverse client base across the US and Canada. When not focused on the business, you usually find Jason either on the road biking or our in the woods and fields of western Wisconsin.

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