York Theatre, Elmhurst, IL

York Theatre is one of 13 independent historic cinemas owned by Classic Cinemas. Patrons relied on the manual reader board marquee to know the theater’s current offerings, but employees found changing the signs difficult and time-consuming. Classic Cinemas President Willis Johnson turned to his local sign dealer, Doyle Signs, for signage that would highlight the historic building’s design, while make updating easier and safer for employees.

The York Theatre is a classic movie palace in the heart of downtown Elmhurst, Ill. The building, which has received recognition for its Spanish-style design, has evolved since it was built in 1924. The ten-screen cinema is home to new releases, classic films, film festivals and birthday parties.

Key to its classic, colorful look is York Theatre’s signage. The old marquee sign had changeable letters surrounded by neon lights, but the difficulty of updating signs with changeable letters limited the number of changes the staff could make each day. In fact, employees had to stand in the street to update the sign overhead, and running out of letters was common. As the theater modernized its features, including adding more screens, the changeable sign became even more of a burden. Willis Johnson, President of Classic Cinemas, which owns York Theatre, contacted Doyle Signs for help choosing a sign that was easier to manage and safer to update.

Doyle Signs recommended Watchfire LED signs due to the ability to create and instantly schedule messages. The sign could be customized with movie titles, events and other information. Johnson was impressed by the knowledgeable Watchfire representative, who brought a demo truck to the theater so he could see firsthand the difference an LED sign could make. “[Watchfire] couldn’t have been more helpful,” said Johnson.

Ignite® Graphics Software makes updating the marquee a snap. “The flexibility is endless,” said Johnson. York Theatre’s General Manager Andy Bach agrees that digital signs are much more user-friendly. “It’s a lot easier [to change], especially when there’s bad weather,” said Bach.

Overall, the experience has been very positive. The signs made publicizing movies and services so much easier that Classic Cinemas installed another Watchfire sign at an historic cinema in St. Charles, Ill. “The signs have been very reliable,” said Johnson. “We can do everything on them.”

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