In an article that starts with a description of Rush Hour director Brett Ratner's speaker elevator and somehow gets more and more ridiculous with each passing paragraph, the Wall Street Journal profiles the entertainment industry's love affair with over the top screening rooms. As they say: "The first private screening rooms were built in the 1930 and 1940s for the original movie moguls to watch films they and their competitors made. But in recent years, as digital projection has replaced the need to hire a projectionist and run 35-millimeter film, there has been a screening-room building boom." And it is nuts. Here're the eight craziest things going on in this article:
8. E! founder Jarl Mohn spent "more than $2 million furnishing and equipping" his screening room. The room has a built-in, 45 minute light show "designed by contemporary artist James Turrell."
7. Steven Spielberg's recently completed screening room at his house in Pacific Palisades has a projectionist booth, lobby, and 1940s Art Deco decor. It is "widely considered one of the most beautiful."
6. It took six months to dig through Ratner's foundation to put in the speaker elevator. His screening room, which cost "about half a million dollars," also has a Rodin in it and an 18 foot wide screen.
5. The screening room at Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff's Holmby Hills house "is flanked by a 2-foot-wide bowl of M&Ms and a frozen-yogurt machine." Regular guests include Glenn Frey and Chelsea Handler.
4. Architect Jeff Cooper is the most sought after screening room designer (he's worked for George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Zemeckis, and Spielberg) and he's currently designing a 49 seat theater for blowing shit up enthusiast Michael Bay: "To create a starry sky that appealed to Mr. Bay's love of special effects, Mr. Cooper is topping the theater with an elliptical dome and fiber-optic stars."
3. Producer Peter Guber "keeps the original Batman outfit from 'Batman,' which he produced, in an office adjacent to the theater."
2. Restaurateur Michael Chow's screening room "shares a wall with his pool to create an aquarium effect" (ok, that's actually pretty cool).
1. And: "Phil Rosenthal, the creator of 'Everybody Loves Raymond'..., started hosting Sunday night screenings in the 1970s for his high-school buddies with a 19-inch color television and take-out pizza. Since then he has upgraded: Five years ago, when he installed a screening room at his Hancock Park home, he also built a wood-burning pizza oven. A professional chef cooks the pizza before the movie."
Apparently, entertainment types are all so anxiety-ridden about their screening rooms because of the "Bel-Air circuit," the list of people wonderful enough to get digital or print versions of movies on opening weekend or before: "Each of the six major Hollywood studios has its own list, but their rosters include mostly the same cast of characters, with a few variations. They spell out the roughly 300 to 500 power brokers, mostly in Los Angeles." Circuit members include: Spielberg (natch), George Clooney, Dr. Dre, Ron Burkle, Derek Jeter, Woody Allen, and Harvey Weinstein (those last few are on the "subway circuit"). We doubt David Hyde Pierce is on the list, but the man has one of the finest screening rooms we've seen lately.
· The Best Seat in the House [WSJ]