May 04, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
When Michael Chow was ready to add a home theater, it had to be a Hollywood-style epic. The proprietor of the paparazzi-friendly Mr Chow restaurant chain rubs elbows with movie stars every day. Chow himself has appeared in films such as Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon 4, and the likes of Al Pacino and Charlize Theron have screened first-run viewings in his Beverly Hills home.
So when Murray Kunis received a call from Chow on a Saturday morning—nearly three years after dropping off a brochure about his custom electronics firm Future Home—he knew the job might include something out of the ordinary.
Chow, who designs the interiors for his restaurants, had a special room built for the theater. It was the basement of a guest house and adjacent to the swimming pool—with three 3-inch-thick windows that hold back 93,000 gallons of water.
“He’s a very conceptual person,” says Kunis. “Why does the room look like it does? That’s all Mr. Chow.”
The room’s acoustical and interior design were taken care of, but it had been gutted for Future Home to wire and install the audio/video system and controls. To accommodate Chow’s family and his often-lengthy guest list, the room needed a whopping screen, big sound, and extra seating capacity.
Kunis filled the front wall with a 16-foot-wide Stewart Filmscreen display that includes electric masking, enabling it to present any size film format without showing black bars. A super-bright Runco VX-55d three-chip DLP projector handles the long 42-foot throw to the screen.
“You need a minimum of 6,000 lumens to light up a screen that large, and the three-chip gives you the most accurate color, and more importantly, no video artifacts,” Kunis says. The theater also houses projection for 35-millimeter film prints, which Chow procures and screens on movies’ opening weekends.
Audio pumps through the room from a high-powered JBL Synthesis system that includes 11 speakers, three 18-inch subwoofers and JBL processing, amplification and equalization.
It’s enough to make any of the 34 seats rumble, including the two back rows that are former Radio City Music Hall chairs. Those rows were a last-minute addition, forcing Kunis to re-engineer sight lines from a cramped equipment booth whose floor had already been raised to create optimal projection.
If the onscreen eye candy isn’t enough, you can tap a Crestron touchscreen to open the motorized panels covering the pool windows, especially if the neighbors drop by for a swim. Did we mention Chow lives only a few houses from Hugh Hefner?
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.