- For the equivalent in Columbia, see Kinetoscope.
- “Are you in the know?”
- ― Need to Know Theater narrator[src]
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.
- Taking the Taint Out of Fontaine - Above Le Temps Perdu - On the recent death of Frank Fontaine and the nationalization of Fontaine Futuristics.
- The Greatness of Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum - In Le Marquis D'Epoque - On Brigid Tenenbaum and her recent departure from the public sphere.
- The Big Daddy - On the way to The Watched Clock - On the Big Daddy and the work he does to construct and maintain Rapture's utilities.
Fontaine's Department Store
- The Black Dream - In Fontaine's Station - Experimental art house film
- The March Hare - In Fontaine's Station - Experimental art house film
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.
- Free Men & Free Markets - Outside of Ryan the Lion Preparatory Academy - On Frank Fontaine's ways of gathering followers.
- Sex Without Compromise - Outside of Cupid's Arrow - On sexual liberation, satisfaction, and equality.
- Regardèrent et Furent Observés - In the "Dancing Lounge" area within the Manta Ray Lounge - Experimental art house film with a surprise ending.
- Message Received, Ryan! - Inside Test-Drive - Atlas' rallying cry to the downtrodden of Rapture.
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 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".
|Items in Burial at Sea|
|Single Use items||Dollar · Teddy Bear · Bracelet · Doll · EVE · Gear · Gold Bar · Infusion · Ladies Shoe · Lockpick · Lockpicking Kit · Locksmith Bag · Medical Kit · Purse · Wallet · Necklace · Ring · Watch · Silver Eagle|
|Ammunition||Carbine Ammo · Hand Cannon Ammo · Radar Range Ammo · Shotgun Ammo · Tommy Gun Ammo · Bolt|
|Consumables||Absinthe · Apple · Banana · Bandages · Beer · Bon Bons · Bourbon · Brandy · Cake · Can of Beans · Candy Bar · Cereal · Crackers · Champagne · Cheese · Cigarettes · Cigars · Coffee · Cotton Candy · Gift Boxes · Gin · Hot Dog · Jar of Pickles · Medicine · Milk · Orange · Peanuts · Pear · Popcorn · Potato chips · Ration · Sandwich · Soda · Spinach · Tea · Thermos · Tomato Soup · Unknown Booze · Vermouth · Whiskey · Wine · White Oats · Watermelon|
|Plot items||Audio Diary · Need to Know Theater · Kinetoscope · Invitation Mask · Coded Messages · Cathode Tube · CO₂ Scrubber · Clock Key · Hair Sample · Lutece Particle · Voxophone|