November 30, 2007
| by Arlen Schweiger
A dedicated home theater should bring the true cinema experience into your home. For Hampton Black of Hampton Silver Screens, that means really lifelike cinema stars, too. Black wanted to jazz up the extravagant theaters Hampton Silver Screens creates for its Florida, California and New York clientele with more than just movie posters and popcorn makers. He was going to give them Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Depp.
Well, okay, maybe not the actors themselves, but full-size, in-character replica sculptures that would stand at attention by the walls of the theater. One theater project in Sebastian, FL, features onlookers Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann of Pirates of the Caribbean and Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
Other sculptures in the works include Bogart’s Rick Blaine of Casablanca and Pacino’s Tony Montana of Scarface. “When you build these very nice theaters that we all do, to have cardboard stand-ups of a character in a $100,000 theater I [think is] just cheesy,” Black says. “I thought, ‘Let’s make it artistic, make it a big wow factor,’ and that’s kind of where I went with it, because I like to put that extra step into a theater.”
The artistic hand in the sculptures is Abner Munoz, whose résumé includes work for Disney, Universal Studios and even Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, according to Black. While mannequins make up the majority of the body undercostume, a combination of materials is used to produce exposed parts such as the detailed facial features. Elaborate props and costumes—like the Terminator’s gun and laser eye or Jack Sparrow’s mystical compass—round out the finishing touches.
Prices vary from about $6,000 to $8,000 for each sculpture, depending on how much work is involved and how extensive the costume is (a suit and a cigarette are about all Bogey needs, while the more ornate pirates cost a couple of thousand more, for example). “It’s not something every theater customer is going to purchase, because there’s a pricey tag on it, but the level of detail is so real looking,” Black says. “Think Madame Tussaud. Although they’re not wax figures, the resemblance is scary.”
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.