Last year I bought an original, double-sided Back to the Future II movie poster, and decided I wanted to have it autographed by Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It turns out that Michael J Fox is extremely difficult to find, but I traveled to a Comic-Con in Chicago, and had Christopher Lloyd sign it (halfway there!).
Anyway, I was going to have the poster professionally framed, but then realized that being double-sided, it would probably look just as good in a lightbox (sadly, I don't expect the signature to shine due to the light). I began researching lightboxes online, and found that there are a number of options, but I also wanted something that would offer protection to my poster...
I would like to thank Sue Heim of Hollywoodposterframes.com. I left her a brief voicemail regarding my search, and she not only called me back, she spent over 15 minutes discussing the type of acrylic I should use in my lightbox if I want to protect my poster from the elements (at least for the front. Protection from the light diffusing acrylic in the back of a lightbox is a different story). In this instance, her recommendation was to only buy lightboxes that had 1/8" thick acrylic sheets, and to use a UV-filtering, non-glare acrylic for the front of the lightbox. If I bought a box that couldn't handle 1/8" thick acrylic, she recommended PETG with UV-filtering. Her info was invaluable!!
A previous post offered a number of sites to check, though it was a few years old. In the end, I visited all of the following sites, and also called or e-mailed a number of them as well.www.blueriverdigital.com
- the first one I tried. They seem to have the fanciest site, with the most options, but they do not "specialize" in movie poster lightboxes, and when I asked for options, the salesperson suggested there were other sites that may better meet my needs. However, they have a CinemaLyte that comes in the correct size, but it's incredibly expensive (over $1,000). They also have a DirectLyte LED (a backlit LED lightbox - similar to some of the DIY's you find on this site, and the only retail backlit LED I found in my research (versus Edgelit), but it's also over $1,000).www.hollywoodmarquees.com
- they sell Bass Industries lightboxes (www.bassind.com
). The site isn't as great as Blue River, but these boxes are clearly designed for movie posters. It turns out a marquee is a light box that may or may not have lights around the outside, and a poster case is a marquee with a lock. These boxes have more features, and fancier frames, but I did not want to spend this kind of money ($700+), and I also could not find details about the types of acrylic used in the boxes.www.stargatecinema.com
- they have some lower priced options, but I thought their non-LED lightbox was too deep (5.5"), and their LED lightbox was Edge lit. Edge lit just means that the lights are on the edges, and the diffuser panel distributes the light throughout the poster. Since my poster is dark on most of the edges, I wanted something with direct backlighting, but wanted it to be as thin as possible. It turns out the thinnest box in my price range was 4", but that is still better than 5.5".www.bassind.com
- I found their website difficult to use, as it was very slow to load pages, and was extremely lacking in details regarding the lightboxes, but a call to them led me to realize that if I was going to buy anything from hollywoodmarquees.com, I would be better off buying from Bass Industries directly. I did not ask about shipping charges, because I felt the boxes were still too expensive (my budget was $500, and the cheapest lightbox was going to be over $600 plus shipping).www.moviegoods.com
- I really liked these lightboxes. The pricing seemed reasonable, and their FAQ provided the details I was looking for... sadly, I e-mailed them on a Friday, and they did not respond until the following Wednesday. The reason for my e-mail to them was that I was shocked they wanted to charge me $70 for shipping, and a footnote on their shipping page said that lightboxes could take 3-4 weeks. For $80, you can get 2-day delivery, but why bother if it still takes 3 weeks to process the order? By that time, I had researched further, and found the exact same lightboxes (as far as I can tell), but with more wood color/style options, and free shipping, at:www.movie-theater-lightboxes.com
- after all of my research, I was back to the recommended site in some other avsforum threads. This site offers a number of wood styles, nearly all are backlit with 4 bulbs (except the entry 2-bulb model), and I truly believe these are the same as those at moviegoods.com. My e-mails were promptly returned, and they even offered a UV-filtering front acrylic for an added fee (though it is not non-glare, so I decided not to purchase - more on that below).
In the end, I placed my order with movie-theater-lightboxes.com. Their customer service was great, and I was able to choose a wood color that my wife and I both really liked. The acrylic in the lightbox (both pieces) is 1/8" thick, which met Sue's recommendations.
I may have visited a few other sites, but these are the ones that at least had something that I considered.
Final note - www.evonik.com
sells cut-to-order acrylic sheets (actually, you have to click through to their acrylicshop site, but evonik is the manufacturer). Once I receive my lightbox, I plan to measure the front acrylic, and purchase a cut-to-order sheet from evonik (OP-3, P-99) - it is UV filtering and non-glare, and is also about 1/8" thick.