Barry Levinson’s Old Theater Becomes Zen Home Cinema
The Rain Man director used to own this house, whose media room got a Buddha lounge and electronics upgrade.
FINALIST: Best Home Theater $50,000-$100,000
August 06, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger

Rain Man would have loved to watch some Jeopardy and People’s Court in this home theater.

Physically, it’s the same space that would have had guests like Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman over while director Barry Levinson (The Natural, Rain Man) screened movies on a then-state-of-the-art projection system featuring dual Runco CRT models.

But more recently, under new ownership, it was time to give this Hollywood hangout room located in Northern California’s affluent Marin County a makeover. After all, the old projectors beamed onto a 4:3 screen, and now’s the age of CinemaScope 2.35:1 home viewing.

Local custom electronics pro Rolling Thunder Group of San Rafael, Calif., was tasked with doing the theater transformation, along with some more rooms in the multimillion-dollar home.

“We originally were contracted to redo the family room system, kids room system and replace the backyard speakers. Of course, we couldn’t wait to get out hands on a redo of the dedicated theater,” says Rolling Thunder’s Jeff Symonds. “The system had stopped functioning and was unusable. With dual Runco CRT projectors, 4:3 fixed screen, a ton of weird interface gear and an original Crestron controller the size of a 22” TV we began discussions to make it a fun room for the owner and her two kids to enjoy.”

With the owner being female, the space could not become the typical mancave type of wall-rattling theater. Symonds and the homeowner worked on the idea of turning the room into a Buddha Bar, and using the carved out space among the existing cabinetry that housed the 4:3 screen and putting artwork there.

That’s how the big head came into play, and it gets covered by a 116-inch custom Da-Lite screen on movie nights. As for the sound system, the front speaker locations that originally went behind a perforated 4:3 screen were moved to below where the Da-Lite screen drops down, as cabinet drawers were replaced to house SpeakerCraft front-channel speakers and two powerful JL Audio subwoofers behind custom grills.

Other pieces of the theater puzzle were moved as well. “The primary gear from the old system was previously in an unfinished closet under the stairs. Two Middle Atlantic racks of other gear from the previous system were exposed in the cabinetry in the back of the room,” says Symonds. “We decided to relocate all the gear for the new system into the cabinetry and fab new matching cabinet doors to hide it all. This now leaves access to the closet’s radiant heat, lighting, electrical and other systems that were previously inaccessible.” All part of the new zen-like atmosphere in here.

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for and Electronic House magazine.

Systems Design and Installation
Rolling Thunder Group
San Rafael, Calif.

Equipment List
Runco q-750d lcd 1080p projector, cinewide-autoscope-mckinley lens
Runco dhd3 16bit outboard video processor upgrade
Runco hk projector hanging kit
Monster Power htfs1000 projector surge protector

Da-Lite custom 1 custom 2.35:1 116” diagonal motorized screen
Da-Lite custom 1 projector voltage screen controller
Da-Lite custom 1 custom match veneer housing
Select cat5 2 low voltage wire for voltage controller

Integra Research rdc-7.1 THX Ultra2 7ch a/v processor w card options
Integra Research rdv-7.1 THX Ultra2 dvd, sacd, dvd-audio reference player
Integra dta-9.4 THX Ultra2 7ch balanced theater amplifier

Integra dbs-6.9 1 blu-ray player
Integra dsa3 1 ipod interface
Apple 160gb 1 160gb apple tv
Comcast hd-dvr 1 comcast hd-dvr cable box

Monster Power htps7000ss signature pro power center demo
Monster Power avs2000ss signature power stabilizer demo

SpeakerCraft aim mt 7 four 4 aimable surround speakers
Dynamic Control eu6 4 sound dampening

JL Audio f1-113 2ea Fathom 13” powered reference sub
Monster Power htfs1000 2ea projector surge protector
Niles balun t-r 2 balanced transmitter-receiver sys
Monster Cable m-series 4 m-series sub interconnect
Select cat5 2 cat5 cable for tr

RTI t3 1 deluxe color touchscreen remote
RTI rp6 1 control system processor
RTI rm433 1 rf antenna

Monster Cable m series 1 75’ hdmi no loss cable
Monster Cable m series 5 hdmi cable
Monster Cable m series 9 xlr balanced audio interconnect
Monster Cable thx 7 thx speaker wire
Select rs232 1 rs232 interface for projector
Xantech 282 6 infrared emitters

Middle Atlantic axs 2ea pullout rack systems
Middle Atlantic axs 2ea track stands
Middle Atlantic rsh4a 8ea custom component rack bezel
Middle Atlantic ud2 2ea drawer for rack system
Middle Atlantic vt1 11ea 1 space vent panel
Middle Atlantic dvd 4ea dvd storage
Middle Atlantic hd100 rack screw package

Custom art Buddha photo purchased from photographer
Custom art Buddha high resolution scan of buddha photo 1080p
Custom art Buddha photo converted to 120” 3 piece canvas art
Custom cab doors small 6ea cabinet doors to replace drawers
Custom cab doors large 2ea speaker grills front
Custom inserts 6ea upholster speaker grills
Custom panel 1 frame, build, drywall, paint projector buildout

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