See Also: Creating a cinema
Sitting in one of the most exclusive home theaters in the Cayman Islands, it’s easy to imagine you are on Broadway.
The multi-purpose entertainment room is fitted out exactly like a professional theater, from the curtains on the stage to the upper balcony and right down to the popcorn.
“My intention was to build a theater that felt like you were sitting in a Broadway show,” says one of the owners. “I love Broadway.”
Built as an annex to their house, the state-of-the-art room is used by the husband-and-wife owners and their two teenage daughters to watch movies on the big screen as well as put on private stage performances.
“For special occasions, such as Father’s Day, our girls do a mini-concert for us,” says their mother. “We love it.”
The family also likes to welcome friends and members of the wider community to enjoy the facility, often hosting events in the home theater.
“The room has been used for private concerts by visiting artists, training seminars, Super Bowl parties, World Cup parties, charity events and church events,” says one of the owners.
Having both grown up in the Cayman Islands, the owners have fond memories of making their own home entertainment in childhood days before the advent of multi-channel television, cinema and the Internet.
“In those days, everyone told stories, and we played the piano and sang in the evenings,” one of the owner recalls.
And although times have changed dramatically in little more than a generation, they wanted their children to have a similar experience of family and friends gathering together.
“We decided that having a home theater would be a nice place for our girls and their friends to hang out,” says their mother.
When planning the theater she researched online and also read lots of magazine to get ideas for the project.
When the design was finalized, the late well-known Caymanian builder Denby Grooves undertook the construction although, sadly, he never lived to see it completed.
The room’s theatrical facade was built in Florida, by a company called First Impressions, then crated up, shipped down and assembled onsite.
Audio and visual engineering was undertaken by Dennis Erskine of Erskine Group from Atlanta, while Tony Golden of Mobile Technology Co. in Atlanta was responsible for the programming.
Meanwhile, Tony Coe from The Installation Company in Cayman was the local contractor who coordinated the project, took care of all the cabling and carries out the maintenance.
The theater can accommodate 20 in the main auditorium, while there are a further four seats in the balcony above.
Fourteen of the leather seats downstairs have a footrest and can recline to whichever angle is most comfortable to watch a performance, while six chairs at the “buddy bar” are designed for drinks before a screening or while watching a sporting event.
Just like a Broadway theater, the walls are covered with a rich burgundy-colored fabric with opulent stage curtains to match.
The dramatic “dusk ’til dawn” ceiling provides the crowning glory on the theater, with fiber optics that transform it into a celestial sky changing from sunset through to sunrise, complete with twinkling stars and shooting stars.
At the center of this stunning feature is a chandelier that, at the touch of a button, can be lowered for cleaning or to change the bulbs.
“It reminds me of The Phantom of the Opera,” says one of the owners, who has seen a great many shows in New York and other cities, her favorite being The Sound of Music.
And when it comes to selecting a movie, there is an extensive list to choose from with everything accessed on a computerized-system by a hand-held remote control.
“The girls and their friends seem to enjoy the scary movies best of all,” says the girls’ mother, who cites Star Trek as her own top choice.
A mini-bar and kitchenette means that snacks and drinks are on hand for refreshments during a performance, with a popcorn-maker to ensure everyone has a true cinema experience.
There is even a powder room in which the mirror transforms into a 32-inch screen so that you don’t miss a moment of the movie if you need to take a bathroom break.
The family uses the theater at least once a week, preferring the privacy of their own home with its top-notch technology, to going to the cinema.
“Our seats recline so it is more comfortable,” says one of the owners. “I also think we have much better sound. The acoustics of the theater are amazing.”
Creating a cinema
It’s possible to create a dedicated home theater in any property, whether a new-build or an existing house.
Budgets can range from $10,000 to millions of dollars, depending on the theme, building materials and technology used.
“I have seen living rooms turned into media rooms and garages into home theaters,” says Tony Coe of The Installation Company, who supplies services for high-end home entertainment systems in Cayman.
“The basis of any room is to start with a good structure, acoustics, planning, materials and equipment to make it your personal cinema that you and your family can enjoy.”
Fundamentally, the room needs to be tuned for the purpose of high-fidelity sound in a controlled environment that will give you the experience of being in a movie.
“The room can be any size but what you need to take it consideration is that, when completed, it will be much smaller because of all the material to making it acoustically sound,” says Tony.
And he points out that while the room is likely to remain the same size, technology is constantly evolving and changing in price, so he suggests spending proportionally more at the outset on the structure of the room than on the equipment.
- Cinema screen is 22 feet wide and
- 10 feet high
- Stage is 20 feet long and 10 feet broad
- Theater walls are 20 inches thick (10 inches of solid concrete, with 10 inches of acoustic equipment on top)
- Walls are angled to direct the sound
- Theater has 21 speakers throughout
- Stage and seating area is packed with sand to counter sound resonance
- Almost a mile and half of cables in theater