Attendance at movie theaters across the country has been booming this year thanks to massive blockbusters like The Avengers and The Hunger Games, and films like Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises promise to keep crowds hot through these remaining summer months.
And if you happen to catch one of these flicks at the Consolidated Theatres Royale 14 in Hyattsville, Maryland, you’re also going to view a sign-and-light show on its front façade that’s an attraction all in itself.
Full-service Rite Lite Signs in Concord, North Carolina built and installed a new canopy for this location that incorporates accent lighting, channel letters, and an illuminated tower. “We’ve done some canopy work at various Consolidated Theatres locations in the past,” says John Sullivan, vice president of operations at Rite Lite, “but this was probably the largest we’d ever done for them.”
The main all-aluminum, forty-four-foot-tall pylon-tower sign was built in eight sections. Its front side features raised, LED-illuminated, red acrylic plex-face channel letters spelling out “R-O-Y-A-L-E 14” in descending order. These were mounted onto removable aluminum panels. Rite Lite also built the aluminum enclosure surrounding the panels and provided secondary tubing and angle support systems.
Each channel letter measures twenty-eight inches tall and thirty-four inches wide. Their faces are attached to black channel returns and feature one-inch black Jewelite trim. There’s also a two-inch-thick secondary support system mounted onto six-inch structural metal stud framing built by the architect.
Four-foot-tall sections of red-tinted LED-backlit acrylic replicating a lighthouse effect rest atop the pylon. This is topped by an aluminum fin.
The pylon sign tower features a separate panel showing an illuminated Consolidated Theatres logo (with the “CT” resembling film strips). This portion is a 45-1/8-inch logo channel, with a 26-1/8-inch Sintra® circle and a 19-¼-inch center logo channel.
Mounted onto a 1-½-inch-deep aluminum cabinet painted Pure White, the self-contained back-lit/face-lit “C” is a five-inch-deep aluminum return also painted Pure White with a 3/16-inch plex face, 3/16-inch white Lexan® backs, one-inch white Jewelite trim, and white LED modules. The backlit-facelit “T” boasts the same specifications but features exposed white plex on top with black vinyl details. “We used a blue vinyl overlay to achieve the logo colors,” says Sullivan.
While the “Royale 14” channel letters were flush-mounted to the panels on the tower, Sullivan says, “We attached the ‘CT’ logo to the Sintra with 1-½-inch stand-offs to achieve a halo-lit effect. You have to play with light a little bit that way.”
For even more Hollywood-style, Rite Lite also spaced LED chaser lights sixteen inches apart along the border of the pylon tower and bottom of the marquee. A dimmer in the manager’s office controls its speed and brightness (due to a college located across the street from the complex). “The chaser lights are actually socketed bulbs built into the structure via CNC-routed holes,” explains Sullivan.
This main elevated sign rests on top of a four-plus-foot-long cast stone cap base that matches the stone on the surrounding exterior façade and four-inch brick veneer with galvanized adjustable anchors sixteen inches apart.
On the sides of the pylon tower, LED -illuminated acrylic-face “Royale” channel letters are the same dimensions as the front letters, but the “14” panel at the bottom was crafted on a CNC router and backed with 2283 Red Acrylic.
Other offices share space above the theater in the same building, so its employees can look down at the backside of the tower. Because of this, the rear of the elevated sign extends the roof membrane up over the structural metal stud framing and ½-inch exterior-grade plywood sheathing and is secured under the aluminum coping.
“It’s a span-type canopy. Behind it is open-air in front of the windows and doors,” explains Sullivan. “So if it’s raining, you will get wet when you walk past it.” (Note: Storm drain leaders were run down though the base of the sign and connect to the site’s storm drainage.)
To add to the rear view appearance, Rite Lite Signs did a complete finish job on the underside, using a suspended lay-in ceiling grid with perforated aluminum panels to create a metal drop ceiling.
Rite Lite also built the two front marquee sides that branch out from and complement the elevated sign tower. “The angled red section and the two red pieces at the bottom underneath the CT logo is all one ‘big knuckle,’” explains Sullivan.
Red SloanLED strip lighting is continuous around the corners of the marquee. These pieces were snapped into the coves underneath the pylon and marquee. (Note: The power supplies for everything are contained inside the marquee tower.)
The theater’s contractor first provided the stud works, the steel I-beam work, and the roof deck; then Rite Lite did the full cladding on three sides (the front, the underside, and the rear).
Rite Lite Lead Fabricator/Structural Designer Eric Wray and his team built the entire sign in about eight weeks at the company’s 55,000-square foot facility. “Since there was more work out in the field than could be achieved in one trip, we rolled out each section as we finished it,” says Sullivan. “We did the big knuckle center section first, then the horizontal pieces, and then worked our way up.”
The sign company used its twenty-four-foot-long box van and four open trailers to deliver the sign. Using its boom trucks, the three- to four-man installation team led by Production Manager Robert “Boomer” Frazier and Lead Installer Tim Shaffer started with the “CT” logo first and then worked their way from the bottom of the tower up.
As mentioned earlier, the Royale 14 is located on a narrow street across from a college. This meant there wasn’t a lot of lane closure here. “We had to [install] during restricted hours,” says Sullivan, “due to college pedestrian traffic.”
The sign was built with ease of serviceability in mind. “The metal retainers make it easy for service technicians,” says Sullivan, “and the chaser lights are accessible through the tower.
“The channel letters are on individual aluminum panels. Each panel can be removed to access the back side—not only the socket wiring but also the letter wiring.”
Rite Lite Sales Manager David Cornelius and Account Executive Bobby Holder sold this job, and Senior Project Manager Renae Hartsell oversaw it.
One thing that Rite Lite really enjoyed about this sign job was the in-depth involvement from the start with the architect behind the project and being able to meet with the engineer and theater owners David and Tasha Catchpole before beginning any work. This also helped Art Director Brian Goss in the design stage. (Note: The architect, engineer, and Consolidated Theatres headquarters are located in nearby Charlotte.)
“We [were able] to coordinate with the building engineer about what we wanted to provide and what we needed him to design structure-wise,” says Sullivan. “This doesn’t happen every day, but we wish it did.
“Normally you get the drawing and are told, ‘Hey, build this.’ Then if you need to make changes, it’s all back to the drawing board. But not here!”
All photos courtesy of Rite Lite Signs.