Think your 50-inch plasma and 7.1 surround-sound system are the badger's nadgers? No chance. Welcome to ten of the most awesome (and awful) home-cinema installations on the planet
Think your 50-inch plasma and 7.1 surround-sound system are the pooch's pods? Unless they're plated in gold and built into a hot-air balloon, think again. Welcome to our round-up of ten of the most awesome (and occasionally awful) home-cinema installations on the planet. If you want to join them, remember you won't just need a six-figure budget -- it'll help if you're stark-staring bonkers, too.
Not only is this Seattle residence home to the cleanest garage known to mankind, it also has a Pioneer Elite PRO-810HD plasma panel to keep its Ferrari-mad owner entertained while he's polishing number-plates and buffing bonnets. Audio comes courtesy of 12 concealed in-wall B&W CCM-80 speakers and the whole system is linked into a cutting-edge Crestron home-automation system. In fact, the only thing preventing it from being the ultimate all-weather drive-in is having to watch movies in the rear-view mirror.
Some 1,230 fibre-optic lights in this domed ceiling recreate the crisp night sky of 14 April 1912, when Leonardo DiCaprio took an unplanned dip in the North Atlantic. The only sinking that goes on in this Tennessee home cinema, though, is the downing of pints pulled in the 'pub room' next door, accessed through a motorised bookcase. The period atmosphere is maintained by hiding the Vidikron 30 ET projector behind a picture frame that lowers at the touch of a button. A custom-made, CinemaScope (2.35:1)-format, 120-inch screen and LSA Group speakers complete the luxury set-up.
You might not agree with Steve Jenkins' taste in, well, anything, but you have to admire his sheer persistence in hand-building this shrine to Parisian belle-époque boudoirs and dodgy adult movies from the early 1980s. His remarkably comprehensive Web site is a virtual DIY manual to constructing your own home cinema on the cheap, from installing a Marantz DLP projector to racking up Ikea Billy shelves and even selecting a Whirlpool MT4140SKB Snack Bar Microwave, "for making popcorn, hot dogs, and other tasty movie snacks."
This ultimate cinematic installation stretches the definition of 'home cinema' to include a setup that won't fit into your home (it's 10m long and 5.5m high) and probably costs more than your entire local multiplex. Apparently, 6 megabucks buys you around 11,000W of audiophile amplification over 8.8 channels, 13 digital sound processors, a 4K (4,096x2,160-pixel) Sony SRX-S110 projector and a production-grade Stewart Snowmatte screen. Images are mostly streamed from a hi-def hard drive or Sony Blu-ray spinner, although Jeremy also keeps on hand a Japan-only Pioneer Muse LaserDisc player from the mid-1990s, capable of hi-def playback.
This immaculate Death Star-themed setup would have been the coolest home cinema in the universe at any given moment between the releases of Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace. But ever since Jar Jar Binks, even an undeniably ace carbonite-frozen Han Solo and automatic sliding doors can't rescue this Seattle installation from seeming a touch naff. At least the electronics are impeccably futuristic, with Meridian's DSP5500 and DSP8000 speakers complemented perfectly by a Runco 3-chip DLP projector. A dedicated gaming interface will help you polish up your X-Wing or TIE Fighter skills, too.
If your vision of the future is less shiny chrome lasers and more polished-brass clockwork, you'll love this steampunk setup inspired by the Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (Anyone else ever wish they'd submerge the Premier League for a season or two?) Travel back in time to simpler days when every door had a porthole or an iris, every pipe had a valve that released billowing clouds of steam, and every gadget was controlled by levers and dials. The owner -- an Emmy Award-winning visual effects artist -- has even boxed up his Panasonic PT-AX200U projector as a Victorian magic lantern.
Holy high definition! Who wants to go out fighting crime when you can settle back into these plush leather seats and enjoy all the action on a Gotham-sized screen instead? Actually, seeing as this custom install is located in Canada, there probably isn't a whole bunch of local crime to solve anyway -- just the odd bit of salmon rustling. One part of the Batman legend is certainly true: you'll need the resources of Bruce Wayne to recreate these stalactites and motorised screen -- this Batcave installation is rumoured to have cost £300,000 before even buying any electronics.
Forget drive-in theatres, when you're a movie fan in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, a dive-in cinema is far more refreshing. At the push of a button, this 6m screen emerges from a weather-resistant storage bench and 7.1 surround-sound speakers burst into life. There's even a connected weather station that will prevent the screen being deployed if it's too windy. We can't help wondering whether it's volcano-proof, too?
Trust a working farmer to come up with this innovative multi-purpose, multi-media installation. During the long evenings in Texas, this 7.5m screen is used for screening movies and playing Guitar Hero -- the sound system is apparently loud enough to "wake the dead". When the sun rises, the home-built screen folds down into a protective roof for every agriculturalist's best friend: his tractor. Just don't go showing Animal Farm and give those uppity pigs any ideas now...
Every man secretly wants to live in his own shed. Put that shed halfway up a tree, add a rope ladder, a plasma panel and an Xbox 360 and it's difficult to imagine a compelling reason ever to descend to ground level. Okay, you might need some Monster Munch and a slab of Guinness to be truly comfortable, but frankly, this is our techno Valhalla right here. If you're not already raiding your pension to afford one of these, er, 'investments' for the back garden, two small words will surely seal the deal: 'zip' and 'wire'.