5 min read

5 Great Examples Of Digital Signage In Movies

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
June 21, 2019
May 29, 2024

Digital signage may sometimes seem rocket science for businesses that are new to the DOOH market. With too many overcomplicated software solutions out there, it’s easy to get lost. Why would I need digital signage? How to benefit from it?

Before you find answers to these and many other questions in our blog, we’d like to give a tour in the world of DOOH as seen through the lens of a camera – movies. Digital billboards, 3D holographic displays – sci-fi movies have been creating (and sometimes, predicting) the mesmerizing digital signage solutions for decades. We’ve made a list of the most memorable ones.

Metropolis (1927)

Probably one of the most groundbreaking movies of all time. With a length of 2,5 hours, this masterpiece was able to visualize futuristic dystopia so vividly that it is sometimes hard to believe it was shot almost a century ago. The movie’s plot is set in Metropolis, the city of the future, divided into two parts: for the rich and the poor.

The upper city’s art deco visual style, thrills with architecture and technologies that would become reality only a half-century after. And that’s where the first digital movie signage solution appears on the screen – the office of Joh Fenderson, located in The New Tower of Babel. It displays some crucial data, that Joh’s workers struggle to analyze. Very similar to mid-century computers, the display is a digital signage screen at it’s best, displaying enterprise information.

Blade Runner (1982)

movie signage

Ridley Scott’s masterpiece has rightfully gained its cult status. One of the most influential sci-fi moves of all time, it gave a boost to the cyberpunk movement. Based on Phillip K. Dick’s 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” “Blade Runner” is set in 2019, failing to accurately predict the future for good. However, the neo-noir design and neon-lit futuristic Los Angeles astonishes viewers to this day.

One of the things Scott got right regarding the urbanistic design is digital signage. One of the most famous shots from the movie is the building-size DOOH in the opening scene displaying some sort of advertising. “Blade Runner” might not depict the futuristic city you’d like to live in, but it sure did guess the future of digital movie signage right!

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Yet another cult movie that tried too hard to invent the future. The second part of Marty McFly’s misadventures in time is set in 2015. The movie follows Marty and Doc Brown as they travel from 1985 to 2015 to prevent Marty's son from sabotaging the McFly family's future.

The movie is over-enthusiastic about the urban tech developments, it falls flat in depicting innovations like flying cars or hoverboards. However, it hits the bull’s eye with hands free-gaming and videocalls. But what’s even more peculiar, you guessed it – Back to the Future Part II present jaw-dropping digital signage. The scene we’re talking about features a Jaws 19 movie 3d-holographic ad. The moment shark hologram “closes jaws” on Marty showcases how real movie signage can get.

Total recall (1990)

With a budget of $50–65 million, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall was one of the most expensive films made at the time of its release. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" movie is set in In the year 2084 and tells a story of a construction worker Douglas Quaid who suddenly finds himself embroiled in espionage on Mars.

Unable to determine if the experiences are real or the result of memory implants, Douglas is dragged into a chain of action of events that turn his life upside down. Apart from drawing a pretty grim future form our civilization, Total Recall gets some tech ideas right. In one of the scenes, where Arnold’s character enjoys breakfast with his wife (played by Sharon Stone), you might spot a beautiful scenery outside their window – only to find out it’s an advanced digital signage screen able to display realistic dynamic content. Decades later this technology is a must for visual marketers.

Minority Report (2002)

Filmmakers will never grow tired of adapting Philip K. Dick’s novels. Steven Spielberg’s neo-noir sci-fi action is loosely based on the short story “The Minority Report”. Set primarily in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia in 2054, it centers around a specialized police department called PreCrime that apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "precogs". A futuristic utopia with almost zero crime rate turns out to be fundamentally flawed.

Tom Cruise’s character Captain John Anderton struggles to find the truth after “precogs” predicted he would kill an unknown man. Jetpacks, hover cars, vertical roads, and movie signage at its best. As John Anderton flees from his own squad through the mall, he’s detected by the eye-tracking digital signage software and screens around him instantly update to offer personalized ads. Such interactions are not far from reality, as the technology for eye-tracking is already out there and ads are getting more and more personal.

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