The Latest Los Angeles Luxury: IMAX Private Theater

You can now watch first run movies in your own home on an incomparable IMAX screen. But it will cost you.

Image courtesy of IMAX IMAX designers have come up with this rendering to show possible customers how the $2 million system could look in their own home. Although several private systems are being designed right now, the product is so new the first one won't be completely installed until next month.

L.A. homeowners: The latest, greatest, most lavish status symbol has arrived. A remarkable private theater system has just been created enabling you to watch the biggest games and the baddest blockbusters in IMAX glory, all in the privacy of your own home.

All it takes is a cool $2 million for the system, and another untold sum to build out the actual theater itself.

It should come as no surprise that almost all of Hollywood is interested, as well as professional athletes, and those who have more money than God and fancy themselves film aficionados. “There is a prestige factor,” acknowledges Rob Lister, the chief business development officer at IMAX.

It’s definitely not the standard type of home theater system that you can plop into any old room. Lister says watching on IMAX is "an immersive experience that feels like it puts you inside the film. All cues that you’re watching a movie are removed.”

For example, there is no frame around the screen, which runs from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Sight and sound are calibrated specifically to each seat, making stadium-style seating ideal, and that must be specially designed for each room.

Image courtesy of IMAX This rendering shows the kind of space required in a home to have an IMAX private theater installed. Note the stadium seating, additional projection room and a wall big enough to accommodate a minimum-sized 20-by-12 foot, curved screen.

Your home theater will also need a special room to house the two projectors. For an immersive experience, you can hardly have the projectors where the viewers can see and hear them.

That being said, Lister talks about one of the first clients to step up to the plate – he wants to be able to watch a game on IMAX while cooking pasta in his kitchen. For him, IMAX designers came up with theater walls that actually descend into the floor, so he can have both the theater and the kitchen experience at the same time.

If you act now, you can be one of the first to own one. While IMAX has already installed a private theater in their Santa Monica location, where top directors like Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan see their films in IMAX for the first time, the initial one to be installed in a private home will be completed in July. Because of this, only the renderings you see here are available.

It’s important to note that if you’re going to make that kind of investment in a private theater, you can watch so much more than movies on it. The system comes with a server that broadcasts games, your favorite TV shows and more, upgraded in the IMAX format. And the system comes with an Android tablet user interface to manage all that.

That kind of programming comes with the system – but if you want to see a first-run movie the day it comes out, you’ll have to make additional accommodations. IMAX is currently in conversations with a startup company called Prima Cinema that will make it happen, with an estimated $35,000 in additional equipment and a charge of about $500 per film.

That might sound pricy to some, but when compared to the cost of big name entertainment, a must-have for a posh Hollywood party or bar mitzvah, it’s a pittance.

Celebrities like Tom Cruise, Seth MacFarlane and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who The Wall Street Journal says have shown interest, can certainly afford it. But, as with most other cutting-edge electronics, if you wait long enough, the price might come down. Doesn’t $1 million sound so much more reasonable?

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