Home Theater of the Month: The Batcave

Holy home theater! Chris Weir created an amazing Batcave environment for his kick-ass AV system, complete with faux-rock walls—Zap! Pow!

There are legions of Batman fans, and there are superfans—and then there’s AVS Forum member Chris Weir (Batman0837). His obsession started as a young boy, waned a bit in his early teens, then returned in full force when he found issue #1 of the Legends of the Dark Knight comic and saw Batman with Michael Keaton in the lead role. “Since then, my love of the character hasn’t really wavered.”

Of course, Chris is also way into home theater, so it was entirely natural for him to combine his two passions. “I wanted to build a fully functional, high-performance home theater with a Batcave theme that was as impressive as the audio and video performance. I wanted the room to be isolated, soundproof, and hidden from plain view behind a bookcase facade as if Batman himself had built the room to operate from.”

Starting with an unfinished basement, Chris used standard materials and sound-isolation construction techniques, including staggered-stud framing, fiberglass insulation, isolating clips with metal hat channels, mass-loaded vinyl, and Green Glue. He did everything but the drywall finishing and flooring with his own two hands—and a lot of sweat equity!


Here’s a look at the framing and fiberglass insulation in one wall.


Once the framing and insulation were complete, Chris installed mass-loaded vinyl and metal hat channels with isolating clips.

One of Chris’ biggest challenges was soundproofing. “I have no past experience in soundproofing, so figuring out what methods and materials to use presented a pretty steep learning curve and an opportunity to do some research in that area. In the end, there was some overlap in implementing each technique, but the results seemed to have worked.”


In this shot, the room is starting to look like a theater. Notice the bat-shaped stage.

Another challenge was creating the cave-like rock facade. “After a few prototypes, I finally settled on EPS [expanded polystyrene] foam because of cost, light weight, portability in and out of the room during assembly, and its ability to bond with several types of coatings and paints.” Chris literally carved the EPS to look like rock, then reinforced it with a liquid fortifier called Boost before coating it in a beige/tan/brown sandy-textured paint with a drywall spray hopper.


This photo of a surround speaker offers a good view of the rock-face facade made from carved EPS foam.

Aside from the rock-face treatment, one of the coolest features of Chris’ Batcave theater is the secret entrance. A bust of Shakespeare in a bookcase outside the theater has a hidden red button that opens part of the bookcase using a motorized mechanism, just like in the 1960s Batman TV series. “There are actually two doors at the ends of a little corridor. The inner door is constructed out of two layers of 3/4″ plywood with a 1/2” gap filled with a Styrofoam core. It’s very robust and heavy. The swinging-bookcase outer door is two additional pieces. The actual door that fills the opening when closed is built out of 2x6s and filled with fiberglass batting and sheathed in finish-grade plywood. The bookcase is fastened to the studs inside the door and aligned precisely with the corner shelving unit. All sides of both door jambs are sealed with rubber door seals screwed to the door stops.

“The commercial-grade door openers are battery powered and maintain a constant charge via low-voltage wiring from two transformers plugged in at a remote location in the basement. The other wiring runs to spring-loaded, normally open contact switches. One switch is the red button inside the bust for entry, and the other is inside the room near the doorway for exiting. The openers have slipping clutches, so there is no danger of anyone getting a finger or foot shut in the door, and the door can be pushed/pulled very easily in a power outage since it does not actually latch. It can also be opened and closed from the iPad controller.”


Chris found a bust of Shakespeare online and couldn’t resist using it to access his Batcave theater. The bust opens to reveal a big red button that activates the secret entrance.


When the entrance is closed, no one would know there’s another world behind the bookcase.


After pressing the red button, the bookcase swings outward, providing entry into the Batcave theater. Holy hideout!

Among the multitude of Batartifacts Chris has collected is an exact replica of the Batsuit from The Dark Knight. “It’s not hard to find Batsuits on places like eBay, but it’s a gray market, which makes it hard to find sellers who are reputable and make or have access to really nice pieces. The guys who really know what they’re doing sculpt and replicate all the elements of the suit themselves. By the time I was ready to make a purchase, the suit from The Dark Knight was being copied. Luckily, I was able to find a seller on eBay who had a quality product at a price I was willing to pay, and who also seemed very reliable.”


A top-quality replica of the Batsuit from The Dark Knight occupies a place of honor in an alcove at the back of the Batcave theater.

I’m impressed not only by the incredible Batcave environment, but also by the AV equipment and dedication to audio and video quality. A JVC DLA-X70 projector with anamorphic lens on a motorized sled, curved 120″ Stewart StudioTek 130 screen with constant-height 2.35/1.78 masking, Marantz AV7701 pre/pro, Rotel power amps, Dynaudio speakers, Marantz UD5505 Blu-ray player, Mac Mini running iTunes and a 24 TB external drive with nearly 1000 HD movies, Dish satellite TV, and a variety of game consoles are all drool-worthy.


When the equipment closet is closed, you can see the acoustic treatments on the wall.


Sliding doors open to reveal an impressive rack of gear along with some media storage.


Chris uses an iPad running the Complete Control app and to operate the theater system. A URC MRX-1 iOS network controller passes commands on to each piece of equipment.

After six months of planning, two and a half years of construction, and around $100,000, the Batcave theater is finished. Among Chris’ greatest moments were seeing the bookcase door open and close for the first time, assembling the Batsuit and placing it in its display niche with other Batgadgets, and of course, watching a movie for the first time. What was that first movie? Batman Begins, of course!


The Batcave theater has seven Elite HTS leather recliners, where Chris, his wife and two kids, and friends can relax in the cool confines of this amazing hideaway.

Chris’ Batcave theater is the ultimate expression of two parallel passions. “My Batman hobby is every bit as important to me as home theater. I simply married the two hobbies.” Obviously, it’s a marriage made in Gotham and likely to last as long as—well, Batman and Robin.

For more about Chris Weir’s Batcave theater, check out the build thread here.

Here’s a YouTube video tour of the Batcave theater:

Chris’ incredible theater was featured on the AMC television show Comic Book Men; check it out:

If you’d like your home theater considered for HT of the Month, PM me with the details and a link to your build thread if available.

EQUIPMENT LIST

Sources

Marantz UD5005 3D BD player
Dish Hopper satellite receiver/DVR
Xbox 360 game console
Xbox One game console
Nintendo Wii U game console
Mac Mini computer w/iTunes & 24 TB external hard drive

AV Electronics

Marantz AV7701 preamp/processor
Rotel RB-1090 2-channel amplifier (for front LR)
Rotel RMB-1095 5-channel amplifier

Projector

JVC DLA-X70 with Panamorph UH480 anamorphic lens on motorized sled

Screen

Stewart StudioTek 130 (120″ diagonal, curved, Cine-V 2.35/1.78 constant-height masking system, 1.3 gain)

Speakers

Dynaudio Contour S 5.4 (LR)
Dynaudio Contour SCX (center)
Dynaudio Contour SR (side & rear surrounds)
Power Sound Audio Dual Triax subwoofers (2)

Cables

Blue Jeans

Control

URC MRX-1 iOS network controller
iPad with Complete Control and Servetome apps

Power Conditioning

Middle Atlantic PD-920R-SP surge protector

Seating

Elite HTS (7)