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For the equivalent in Columbia, see Kinetoscope.

A Need to Know Theater.

Are you in the know?
― Need to Know Theater narrator[src]

Need to Know Theater is a series of vending machines created by Ryan Industries and located throughout Rapture. They are only seen during the BioShock Infinite: downloadable content Burial at Sea.


A Need to Know Theater above Le Temps Perdu.

1958 was a turbulent year for Rapture. Andrew Ryan needed a way to keep public opinion positive. He had Rapture Film Productions compose a series of semi-propagandistic documentary shorts on important issues the city was facing. Then he had a series of nickelodeons set up to exhibit the films. Sander Cohen had some of his avant-garde films displayed through the machines, though these were not a part of the "Need to Know Theater" series.

Burial at Sea - Episode 1[]

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1

Booker DeWitt can view the Need to Know Theater films as he explores the city. Since the machines are a public service, they are free (although, in Episode One, they're usually positioned directly in between a pair of Slot Machines). There are three films that are a part of the Need to Know Theater in High Street and two Sander Cohen Kinetoscopes that are located in Fontaine's Department Store, respectively.


High Street[]

Fontaine's Department Store[]

Burial at Sea - Episode 2 []

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2

Elizabeth will come across two Need to Know Theaters, one Sander Cohen kinetoscope-style film, and a vandalized Theater as she explores the Housewares building. Another Kinetoscope is found while exploring the Factory.




Behind the Scenes[]

  • The Need to Know Theater is the Rapture version of Columbia's Kinetoscopes. Both are anachronistic to their time periods. While Thomas Edison's assistant William K.L. Dickson developed the technology to provide synced audio in 1894 when the Kinetoscope was invented, Edison chose to not pursue the option and film would not contain audio until the 1920s. In 1912, it is unknown if this was simply an improvement on the design or something seen through a Tear to the 1920s. In 1958, peephole viewer machines had gone out of style and the types of films played on the Need to Know Theater would have been played either at movie theaters or on television.
    • The closest equivalent was the Panoram, a coin-operated film jukebox that would play Soundies, essentially the world's first music videos.
  • The Need to Know Theater on the way to The Watched Clock is mislabeled. The machine reads "The Bouncer," but the film is titled "The Big Daddy" and does not only focus on the protector model of the same name.
  • The pictures of Fontaine, Ryan, and the members of the Rapture Central Council in Need to Know Theater were reused from the audio diary portraits in the original BioShock. It's notable that Bill McDonagh's portrait has been altered so that he now wears a suit.
  • Certain footage from the films is taken from previous BioShock games. This is most noticeable in "The Big Daddy".