No, that won't really be the name when it's finished. But it will be the name throughout the building process because, "this one goes to 11." Our ceiling in the front portion of the room will be just over 11 feet, and the ceiling height in the back of the room will be just under 10 feet (standard for the rest of the basement).
Before getting into the particulars, first let me say thank you to some incredibly helpful advice from kmhvball in particular, along with Aaron Smith and audiovideoholic in the Cinema-Nati Theater Build thread. And, of course, thank you to many others on the forum whose posts I've been reading for months to get up to speed on the general concepts.
With that out of the way, the architect's drawing of the Spinal Tap Theater is attached. It includes the dimensions other than the ceiling heights listed above -- the room will be about 23 feet long and 19 feet wide (a little wider in part of it, but cabinets in that area will make it a consistent 19 feet from the perspective of how much room there will be for seats). You will walk in the back of the theater without any steps as you enter. At this level, there will be a 3rd row consisting of a counter and bar stools. There also will be a second row at the same level consisting of theater chairs. Finally, you will step down into the rest of the room to reach the front row of theater chairs. Based on my current tentative plan, the front portion of the room will be 15 inches lower than the rest of the basement -- two steps down from the level of the back two rows.
1. Should I use an acoustically transparent screen with speakers behind it, or speakers on stands with the screen flush against the wall? I'm leaning toward the latter. You can't see the speakers with the lights off and a movie on anyway, and my kids are preteens and responsible now. Putting the screen flush against the wall also maximizes the room length, which should help with squeezing the third row into a room that will be only 23 feet long. I think I'll need the space even though the third row is smaller due to it being only a counter and bar stools.
2. How far should the front portion of the room, with its lower floor, extend out from the screen before hitting the back portion of the room with its higher floor and two rows of seating (2d row of chairs, 3d row of counter with stools). I'm leaning toward 10 feet from the screen to the back of the first row, which will leave the remaining 13 feet for the next level containing the second and third rows. This would closely mimic kmhvball's dimensions in the Cinema-Nati Theater.
3. As you can see, there is the odd bump out in the width on one side of the back portion of the room, which is dictated by the dimensions of the upstairs. I'm planning to place cabinets to hold the equipment there, which will include some counter space for snacks. Have I overlooked a reason why this might be a stupid idea?
4. Does dropping the floor 15 inches for the front portion of the room sound about right? I could do more or less since we still haven't moved any dirt.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the pre-construction planning. Once my concrete gets poured, this thread obviously could wind up being dormant for a long while. I'll resurrect it as progress is made or questions arise.
Thanks in advance for your insight on planning the room. I'm very excited about the project!