March 12, 2010
| by Tom LeBlanc
Director Spiro Razatos doesn’t make Steven Spielberg money, but he probably loves movies just as much. So when it came time to build his dream home theater, he couldn’t make it a big-budget production. Still, he had an epic vision.
The stuntman-turned-stunt-coordinator and director has fond memories of sitting in vintage movie theaters with his dad. “Since I was a little kid I wanted to have a real theater where I could sit and watch movies at home,” he says.
He had attempted the home theater stunt a few times, “converting bedrooms into theaters, that sort of thing,” Razatos recalls. A couple of years ago, though, he decided to commit fully to building his custom moviehouse dream theater in his Valencia, Calif., home. And he gave up his three-car garage to do so.
Working with his longtime systems integrator, Dennis Dooley of Hollywood Home Theatre in Reseda, Calif., he came up with Spirovision, an old fashioned, gold-plated movie theater complete with a candy counter featuring “over 100 candy bars,” says the enthusiastic Razatos.
Of course, no vintage theater would be complete without a Cinerama-type 2.35:1 screen. Razatos went with a Stewart Filmscreen CineCurve fed by a JVC DLA-RS20 projector.
For audio, Dooley installed a full JBL Synthesis system with two 18-inch subwoofers. He enlisted Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based AV Partners to calibrate the audio system using JBL’s computer-based system.
Razatos and guests use an RTI T4 touchpanel to control the audio/video, lighting and a dedicated air-conditioning system that Dooley says “cools the room almost instantaneously.”
The entire theater was meticulously planned right down to “some very personal details,” Razatos says. The molding was hand-painted with gold leaf and pinstriping. The custom candy counter features a hidden drawer where the bottomless candy bar supply is stashed. There’s also a hidden refrigerator, freezer (for ice cream) and a popcorn machine. (Click here to view a slideshow of the theater and game room.)
Dooley estimates the total cost of the equipment and installation, at $90,000—and that includes an adjacent gaming room and bedroom audio. A lot of the cost was defrayed by using legacy equipment that Razatos had acquired over the years. “That saved him a lot of money,” Dooley says.
Razatos says he was surprised by how little he had to spend to do so much. He credits a willingness to get creative with the space in his home of 10 years, pointing to the acoustically treated sliding rear wall that allows the theater to open to a gaming room with 16 Xbox 360s.
The home theater-gaming room combo has become a weekend destination for Razatos and his friends—whether it’s for movie night, watching football or talking trash while playing Call of Duty. That, in a roundabout way, has saved Razatos some money. “I don’t go out,” he says. “My friends come to me.”
As mentioned, there are 16 Microsoft Xbox 360s networked together in Razatos’ game room. Instead of playing online, Razatos says he often has 15 of his friends over to play Call of Duty against one another. “We can laugh and talk [expletive] to each other.”
The gaming aspect of Razatos’ system is really only the tip of the iceberg, says Dooley. A sliding door opens to the custom home theater. That 115-inch screen combined with the 16 gaming monitors—all of which are wired to the satellite system—create an impressive football-watching environment.
Dooley points out that Spiro can keep the sliding door closed for screening movies and open it up for football.
The theater and gaming room also provides Razatos with a way to blow off steam. “People need releases. Lots of people need to go out and drink, but I get my stress relief at home. This is just good, clean fun.”
Challenges Behind the Curtain
Even though Razatos sacrificed his three-car garage for a home theater, space in his entertainment haven remained at a premium.
Razatos wanted the Stewart Filmscreen unit to cover every inch of the wall, but he also wanted it covered by an old-fashion curtain. For the curtain to hang somewhere, something had to give. “The solution was to build a pocket in one of the side walls,” explains Dooley of Hollywood Home Theatre. “When the curtains are opened they enter into the side wall, make a 90-degree turn and stack inside the pocket.”
A similar pocket was built to house the acoustically treated rear wall of the theater so the room can open up to the gaming area for parties or football-watching.