IMAX launches a home-theater system priced at $2 million

Read Full Article at The Wall Street Journal by Lauren Schuker Blum


Soon, homeowners will have the option to watch everything from baseball games to movies to reality TV shows on a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screen.

The price tag: $2 million. IMAX Corp., known for its immersive towering movie screens, is now launching a private home-theater system. How big is the market for a $2 million home theater? "With this, we are targeting a new group." says IMAX Chief Executive Rich Gelfond. "People with this kind of wealth aren't going to the movies."

People close to the company say "Family Guy" creator and recent Oscar host Seth MacFarlane, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise are in talks with IMAX to install the private theater system.

The IMAX home-theater system uses the same technology the company uses in commercial multiplexes: a curved floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screen; a high-resolution, dual-projection system that can handle 2-D and 3-D formats; and an audio system with laser-aligned loudspeakers and microphones that perform daily calibrations to ensure perfect sound. It is modeled after the private and relatively small screening room IMAX built in Santa Monica, Calif., for filmmakers to see their movies in the format before the public release.

The first two installations for the product are expected to be completed over the next six months, with half a dozen more by next year and 10 to 15 per year after 2014, says Rob Lister, IMAX's chief business-development officer. IMAX coordinates the installation with architects, contractors and interior designers.

Installation can be complicated. An IMAX screen requires a certain amount of room—meaning that homeowners may need to be prepared to add a 500-square-foot screening room to their home. IMAX screens in commercial movie theaters can reach up to 118 feet wide and 82 feet tall. For its home theaters, IMAX hasn't set any parameters in stone, but chief technology officer Brian Bonnick says the space must be able to accommodate at least two projectors that are 5 feet tall, 2½ feet wide and 4 feet deep in an area separate from the screening room.

Ahmad Lee Khamsi, a Latin American cable executive, is one of the first customers to adopt the technology. He is working with IMAX to incorporate a private theater into the 11,000-square-foot waterfront home he is building in Miami Beach.