Film house fever

The only crunch of popcorn will be your own. The recliners go all the way back, feet up, making sleep possible, except for the crystal-clear, 120-inch screen keeping your eyes wide open. You don’t want to miss a thing.

All is well. For however long you remain in the comfortable dwelling, you are the king of your domain. Sometimes, you even share it with the rest of your family — “it” being the home theater, of course. For some, it’s a converted spare
bedroom. But for the high-tech media hound, it could be a fullscale
theater room, like the ones created by Onyx Theaters, 219 W Wilshire.

John Brill, J.D. Upton and Kelly Upton kick back in the Onyx showrom.

Such
was the case for John Sorenson, a retired commercial Realtor, who built
a home in Quo Vadis in Arcadia. Hollywood runs in their blood; once
upon a time, he owned the now-closed Westwood Theatre on 5956 NW 23, and
his uncle and cousin, Dub and Buck Taylor, were Western movie and
television stars.

Ever
since Sorenson and his wife, Carol, created their 14-by-18 theater room
with six overstuffed chairs, they’ve watched an estimated 150 films on
their personal big screen. And since every cave requires sustenance, he
added a bar area with seating just outside of the theater.

For
their Gaillardia home, Harvey Sparkman, owner and president of Midwest
Hose & Specialty Inc., and his wife, Cindy, payroll manager for the
company, went the concession-stand route for their theater, complete
with vintage screening-room lights and a poster for the Oscar-winning
Sandra Bullock drama, “The Blind Side.”

The
Sparkmans say their theater room was inspired by the Moore Warren
Theatre. She selected red chenille walls with a gold animal print, and
black carpet with a gold and red swirl print. With 10 black automatic
recliners and plenty of space on the floor, 17 people fit comfortably
inside.

“Since the
chairs go flat, our kids had their first sleepover in the room with
their friends. Harvey loves to watch the news in the room, and it’s
great for sports,” Cindy Sparkman says.

And with the screen measuring 161 inches, he won’t miss a single detail.

PRICE OF GLORY

Obviously, the well-appointed theater room can come with a hefty price tag.

J.D.
Upton, owner of Onyx Theaters, which outfitted the Sorenson and
Sparkman homes, says one with all the accouterments — state-of-the-art,
top-ofthe-line and professionally designed — can run between $25,000 and
$50,000. Yes, customers can have a wall screen with a curtain that
opens as the lights dim, and closes as the lights come up at the end of
the movie, all with the click of a button.

“I
wanted to bring the feel of the East Coast and West Coast theater rooms
to Oklahoma,” Upton says. “It’s all about creating the experience.”

Designing
one with equally impressive technology and ambience requires careful
planning. Travis Neely, who does just that at Onyx, provided a few
pointers.

“The room
should be acoustically transparent,” Neely says. “Hidden surround sound
is important, along with details, such as a stage for kids to perform.”

Color? He says to go dark and not to forget the ceiling.

“It
needs to feel dark and theatrical, and you don’t want the light
bouncing off the ceiling,” he says, adding that he prefers a sheen-less
paint for that reason.

Customers
should begin, he says, with determining the room’s true purpose: Will
it also be used as a game room for the whole family, with a corner for a
table and chairs? Such a multipurpose room must be designed differently
than a straight theater room. Deciding these needs affects everything, from seating and storage to organization and flow.

While
most theater rooms in Oklahoma are traditional, harkening back to the
movie houses of yesteryear, the beauty of the creative process is the
cave can be fully customized to the owner’s specific tastes and style.

“I’d love to design a modern, contemporary theater,” Neely says.

MATINEE
MAINTENANCE

If luxury isn’t in the budget, never fear. Frugal Edmond
engineer Jeremiah Smith pulled off his home theater for less than
$2,500. How did he do it? A bit of do-it-yourself ingenuity, along with
his know-how as an engineer for Pan American Drilling Services, and some
help from good ol’ Dad.

“You can get a projector for next to nothing now,” Smith says. “It’s the screens that are so expensive.”

Solution?
He used drywall and painted it to be the screen on which to project the
120-inch image. He bought the projector; added surround sound;
installed red, theater-style carpeting; and settled on a large
sectional, which comfortably seats eight.

He
didn’t skimp on the details, either. Theater lighting with dimmer
switches? Check. Floor rope lighting? Check. Pneumatic door? Ch — wait,
what? Smith’s father built him a hidden door that uses an air cylinder
to open and close it. Very “Star Trek,” is it not?

The
room is a converted secondary garage, which means there was no window
to worry about covering, and Smith says he’s very pleased with the
outcome.

“I use it
for sports events, movies for date night, drinking and partying,” he
said. “It’s been a blast. I got rid of my other TV entirely and use this
one to watch TV, too.”

And should you get tired of sitting, Smith says his man cave is great for impromptu dance parties, as well.

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