Creating home theaters that transport you under the sea or to a galaxy far, far away before the movie even starts...
In our ongoing quest to discover the ultimate in geek-It-yourself (or at least dream-It-yourself) home stylings, we began our ultimate home theater search by contacting the custom a/v and fabricating experts at Dillon Works in Mukilteo, Wash. to learn the stories behind two of the most spectacular themed home theaters we’ve seen yet. If you can imagine it (and afford it), they can bring it to life.
The first is every Star Wars fan’s ideal theater, featuring star fields, C-3PO, and even Han Solo encased in carbonite (and in perfect hibernation, no less). The second is of a more vintage variety, paying homage to Disney’s classic cinematic adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (giant squid not included).
In the case of the Star Wars project, Brian Leonard, director of sales and marketing for Dillon Works, explains the original concept was produced for the homeowners by none other than LucasFilm production designer Doug Chiang, who worked on all three prequels.
“Dillon Works then took Doug’s sketches and further developed the design to fit the geometry of the room, without compromising the aesthetic intent,” Leonard says. “We had previously worked with this client at their former company, Wizards of the Coast. Because of this, they were already familiar with our capabilities, and when they decided to build this theater, we were their first phone call. They are Star Wars aficionados, to say the least, and they already knew that our attention to detail would be paramount to the success of creating the ‘authentic’ architecture of the Death Star.”
In the case of the 20,000 Leagues theater, largely inspired by the design of the film’s fanciful Nautilus submarine, the under the sea theme was part of an addition to an existing home, which prompted Dillon Works to collaborate closely with the home’s architect. “This client is a big Disney fan and has a collection of memorabilia with a focus on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Leonard says. “When the owner was considering the idea of a Nautilus submarine interior, the architect knew to call Dillon Works. not only could we produce an amazing theater but our owner, Mike Dillon, used to work for Walt Disney Imagineering. It was a perfect match.”
In order to find the perfect aesthetic, the Dillon Works team went back to the original films for reference. “We watched both movies over and over,” Leonard says. “the client also had references they provided. It also helps that we have a few of our own Star Wars fanatics here as well.”
But even fans can get confused. Only a few months ago the first President with serious geek cred, Barack Obama, referred to the “Jedi mind meld” in a speech, an ill-advised amalgamation of Star Wars and Star Trek tropes. Dillon Works had its own similar faux pas. “In our first meeting with the client, when they were describing their vision, they mentioned ‘automatic doors,’” Leonard says. “In our enthusiasm, we were like ‘cool! so when they open you hear a pffft sound!!’ ” Their response: ‘no, that’s Star Trek. this is Star Wars! Star Wars doors don’t make noise.’ Ok. got it!” and one can only imagine what it would be like to walk into your custom-made home theater for the first time and see your vision realized. recalls Leonard, “they were stunned by how accurately we built what was designed. the final product is remarkably close to the original renderings. We are used to this on our projects, but the similarity often surprises the clients, in a good way.”
As for the future, in which Leonard foresees home theater technology continuing to evolve exponentially with expanded “interactivity technologically immerseive environments,” Dillon Works still has a wish list of a few themed home theaters the company would love to build someday. “like Men in Black, Avatar, The Incredibles and Indiana Jones,” Leonard ofers hopefully. So with just a few tens of thousands of dollars you can make your dreams — and theirs — come true. Who knows, maybe you can even feel a great disturbance in the force as your seats rumble while Vader throttles you in the comfort of your own home.
Originally Published in GEEK Magazine Vol. 2, Number 2
Pictures Courtesy of Dillon Works