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Mark Henninger
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Theo Kalomirakis loves movies. His obsession led him to build a home theater in the basement of a brownstone in Brooklyn all the way back in the 1980s. That project caught the attention of his friends, some of whom were journalists in New York City who wrote about the crazy person with a theater in his basement—and the rest is history. 
 
I was lucky enough to meet Theo twice over the past year. The first time was at CEDIA 2013 in Denver, where I videotaped an interview he did with AVS Forum Editor Scott Wilkinson.
. The second time I saw him—at the Luxury Technology Show in NYC—he invited me to demo his personal home theater, the Roxy 2.0, which is located inside his spectacular Brooklyn loft. I jumped at the opportunity to spend a few hours with the man often referred to as the "Father of Home Theater."
 
Theo is known for his lavish home-theater designs that pay homage to the golden era of movie palaces—the 1920s. His product—the incredibly opulent home-theater designs he's created for wealthy clients—reflect the idea that cinema is something unique, perhaps even sacred. Nevertheless, his own theater stands in stark contrast to that aesthetic. It's a compact 13 by 17-foot six-seater put together in a minimalist style with an impressive-sounding 7.1 channel surround speaker system from California Audio Technology—featuring twelve subwoofers—that is entirely hidden by the screen and wall panels.
 

The Roxy 2.0 theater features a 120-inch (diagonal) Stewart Filmscreen Cinecurve
 
The entrance to the Roxy 2.0—a name Theo chose as an homage to his first theater, the Roxy—is lined with his LaserDisc, DVD, and Blu-ray collections. Theo arranged all his movie discs on shelves that form an impressive corridor—you literally walk through his collection on the way into the theater itself. Speaking of his collection, it consists of over 14,000 Blu-rays and DVDs; it is quite a remarkable sight and represents about half of all movies ever released on those two formats.
 

I was blown away by the size and scope of Theo's Blu-ray and DVD collection
 
Even though Theo collects discs, he also appreciates the convenience of playing movies from a hard drive or the cloud. For example, he uses Vudu and owns over 120 movies in HDX format. For our demo, Theo used a Kaleidescape Cinema One to queue up Chicago starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Renee Zelwegger. The movie was a Blu-ray quality download from the Kaleidescape store—not a physical disc. The presentation was immediately engrossing, and the ultra-comfortable Cinematech Valentino recliners let me relax and enjoy the show. Theo Kalomirakis had worked his magic on me.
 
In his own blog, Theo describes the thinking behind the design of his Roxy 2.0 Theater. "Unlike some of the theaters associated with my work, my personal taste in design runs toward the clean and the minimal. My loft is clean and minimal, and the theater in it is an extension of that aesthetic.
 
"By any standards, the space of my theater is very small—just 13' x 17'. Trying to fill it up with the typical decorative flourishes—columns, panels, and such—would only 'choke' it and make it look even smaller. I decided that any decorative flair in it will be accomplished through color-changing lighting.
 
"Even modest design gestures are costly when you operate under a tight budget. And the budget for my theater was beyond tight—not just because I couldn't afford to spend what our super-rich clients spend to build their theaters, but because I wanted to prove that you don’t need to spend a fortune for a good-looking theater. How many times have we seen over-ambitiously-designed theaters become objects of derision instead of desire?"
 
Ultimately, Theo's presentation reminded me that the point of home theater is to enjoy movies—not to worship technology. If you can't find a classic film on Blu-ray, then go ahead and watch the darned DVD! The idea behind a home theater is to create an environment that promotes escapist immersion into the worlds created by filmmakers—but it's nothing without content.
 

Theo's rack of gear seen from behind. Awesome cable management by Chris Wylie.
 
Theo certainly appreciates exceptional image and sound quality, but he draws the line at exposing the gear to the audience. When I took a moment to show him the current AVS Home Theater of the Month, Theo immediately said, "That goes against everything I believe in," which I took to mean that the gear itself should be hidden so it does not become a distraction to the viewer.
 
Theo's Roxy 2.0 theater is just now coming together after a six-year struggle that you can read about here. The room, which features acoustics designed by Steve Haas of SH Acoustics, still needs a few finishing touches—like a projector swap with a 3D-capable model. 
 
Contributors to the theater's construction include Chris Wylie of Seal Solutions (AV Integrator), Jakub Paszynin of Teknamat (Theater Builder), plus Marc Cote and Steve Haas of SH Acoustics (Theater Acoustician and Audio Calibrator). On the gear front, a Crestron Procise pre/pro feeds three California Audio Technology amplifiers. Interconnects and cables are all by Monster Cable and are (when applicable) 4K/UHD ready.
 

Theo's stash of LaserDiscs
 
Even without the forthcoming equipment upgrades, the combined effect of a 120-inch (diagonal) 2.40:1 aspect ratio Stewart Filmscreen Cinecurve Studiotek 130, paired with the Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED 1000 projector—along with pristine Blu-ray quality sound and video coming from the Cinema One allowed me see and hear the true potential of his setup. At one point Theo noted that his favorite AV source is his Oppo BDP-103D 3D Blu-ray player, which I did not have a chance to demo in his theater. I bet I will get my chance once the Roxy 2.0 becomes 3D capable.
 
Because of new technology, I suspect the Roxy 2.0 will remain a work in progress for a long time to come. Fortunately, Theo invited me to come back to screen a full movie at some point in the near future; I can’t wait to experience the finished, fully upgraded Roxy 2.0, designed by the originator of home theater. It is a pure expression of the man's passion for cinema.
 
 
UPDATED 4/10/14
 
Here's Theo's response to the thread and to the comments...
 
"It’s great to get such feedback about my theater. It took me a few years to finish it because I travel a lot and I do not like construction going on while I am away. But now that's done I can't have enough of it. Every other night I am trying to catch up with all these movies that I had put aside to savor on the big screen with good sound and good picture.  
 
Most people recognize me from the lavish recreations of the old style movie places we do for our clients. I certainly love the era –the twenties and thirties mainly--when the theater itself was as much as the attraction as the movie on the screen. Many of my new theaters are still elaborately traditional and I would be a hypocrite if I said that I do not enjoy designing them. But my heart is not in traditional designs anymore. When I moved to the loft where I currently live in Brooklyn, I started “cleaning up” my “aesthetic” act. I learned to love clean lines, minimalism and lack of any kind of visual clutter. My new theater reflects this aesthetic and not just because I could not afford the architectural splendor of some of our theaters. but because I am not that interested in “recreations” any more. What excites me nowadays is coming up with designs that still excite, but they exist somewhere between the lavishness of the old movie palaces and the brutally stripped down “functionality” of the multiplex theaters-- or, the “boxes” as some exhibitors like to call them.
 
Here are some random answers to questions or comments some readers had after reading the post:
 
--My large collection of DVDs, Blu-rays, Laser Discs --and hey, even Beta and VHS tapes for those hard-to -find movies that never made it to digital formats—is very accurately catalogued using a software from Invelos called DVD Profiler. I try to enter new discs in the database as soon as I buy them for fear that if I don’t, I will forget what I bought and buy the same title again. Well, I still make mistakes and I often find myself with the same title twice-- and sometimes even three times!!!
 
--My theater has dark grey walls that somehow photograph much lighter than they actually are. I use cove LEDs to alter their color at will. Lighting is a designer’s secret weapon and I find it to be a very effective tool in turning even the most bland-looking room into something that put us in the right mood to watch a movie.
 
--The theater cost very little to build –and I paid for it. But the equipment were expensive and I would never have been able to afford them without the participation of my friends in the industry (Stewart, Crestron, CAT, DP, Monster, etc.) who saw the theater not only as the right space to showcase their technology but also as a room that proves that you do not need a huge amount of real estate to get into the right mood for watching a movie.
 
--The “obsessive” cable management in the theater’s rack reflects my equally obsessive need for order. It is the handiwork of my good friend Chris Wyllie of Seal Solutions and his right-hand man, the talented Paul Fakatselis.
 
--Some readers were trying to figure out where I come from and they guessed it right; with a last name like Kalomirakis how could I be anything else but Greek!. I was born and raised in Athens but I comfortably settled in the US after I got my degree in Film from NUY. I love Greece, I visit it very often and I am at my happiest when I design theaters in my old country for fellow Greeks." - Theo Kalomirakis (Paradyme)
 
Theo also sent me a pair of photos from a project that features modern/minimalist aesthetics.
 

 

 
 
 
 
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Very nice. Although his opulent designs are amazing, i love his minimalistic designs even more. His 3D renders of IMAX private theaters are still stuck in my mind. Mark is the projector inside the theater room or outside of it? Does it use an anamorphic lens and is there any other dedicated external video processing hardware like lumagen?


Never mind the info is on his blog!
 
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His cable management.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaPie  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24581157


His cable management.

I was coming to comment as soon as I saw that!

I'm drooling! What a nice job.
 
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I much prefer the look of his first Roxy Home Theater back in the late 80's. It was featured in Audio/Video Interiors mag and also on Entertainment Tonight with Leonard Maltin. It looked like an old movie palace. I still have the vhs recording of that show. Nice to see he still has LD's. I remember him having a massive collection back in the day.


I would take Art's HT any day over this. Those light walls would drive me nuts.
 

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my roommate has 12000+ DVDs and Blurays, and yes it is an insane site to see, wall to wall movies and we also have all of the movies ripped, currently in the process of building a HTServer for it all.
 
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I have a special affection for this minimalist design, not only because it's gorgeous, but because it's also the route I'm taking in my build.  Although I can definitely appreciate opulent designs, light and sound reflections become a factor with those aspects of a theater.  This theater doesn't have such issues at all.  Looking at it, i would never have guessed it's a 13x17 room.  The space between the rows alone--visible through the entry doors--makes the room look much larger before you even see the inside.   This room is just what I'd expect from an experienced industry SME. I love it.
 

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Greetings,


I echo the positive comments here and find the design to be aesthetically pleasing. Great job Mark and let me know when you're invited back. Perhaps we can convince him to let me tag along..




Regards,
 

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Nice, very nice.


I'll take a stab in the dark and say that Theo is Greek?



The Roxy Theater in Australia has some special significance to the local Greek community (largest outside of Greece).

http://www.roxybingara.com.au/roxy-history/


Also happens that I spent the first 12 years of my life in the same town.


Anyhow, thought you might be interested in some history of the name.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24578690


At one point Theo noted that his favorite AV source is his Oppo 130D 3D Blu-ray player, which I did not have a chance to demo in his theater.
 

Was this a typo or does Oppo actually make a 130D?  If so, where can you find the specs on it?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaPie  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis/0_50#post_24581157


His cable management.
My first thought was: Holy cable management, Batman! Love the movie library as well.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarthDoxie  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24581968

 

My first thought was: Holy cable management, Batman! Love the movie library as well.
 

Could you imagine having to replace a cable with this setup?

 

Wonder how his movies are organized (strictly alpha, genre>alpha, other)?  Thank goodness for K-scape (and similar solutions).  It could take a whole day of browsing those shelves just to figure out what movie you want to watch.  Out of curiosity, is there a similar solution for laserdisc or does he actually go to the shelves to get the disc and put it in the player?
 

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Mark Henninger
Sony VPL-VW295ES, Denon AVR X8500H, GoldenEar SuperSub XXL, GoldenEar Triton 7 speakers, PS5 Pro
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Discussion Starter #15

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elill  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24581903


Nice, very nice.


I'll take a stab in the dark and say that Theo is Greek?



The Roxy Theater in Australia has some special significance to the local Greek community (largest outside of Greece).

http://www.roxybingara.com.au/roxy-history/


Also happens that I spent the first 12 years of my life in the same town.


Anyhow, thought you might be interested in some history of the name.
Interesting, but if you care about the history of the name, this is why there are so many movie theaters called the Roxy...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roxy_Theatre_(New_York_City)

 

 

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Mark Henninger
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Discussion Starter #16

Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyoAJB  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24581905

 

 

Was this a typo or does Oppo actually make a 130D?  If so, where can you find the specs on it?
Oppo sure does, the D stands for Darbee Edition. There is a huge owners thread here on AVS .
 

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Mark Henninger
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Discussion Starter #18

Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyoAJB  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24582140

 

I got the "D" = Darbee part. :)

 

I wasn't sure if "130" was supposed to be "103"
Yes, it was a typo with a side order of dyslexia! thanks...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24582081


Oppo sure does, the D stands for Darbee Edition. There is a huge owners thread here on AVS .

Oppo 103D


EDIT: Oops - I got "treed" on my reply . . .
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyoAJB  /t/1526243/the-roxy-2-0-theater-by-theo-kalomirakis#post_24582037


Could you imagine having to replace a cable with this setup?


Wonder how his movies are organized (strictly alpha, genre>alpha, other)? 

Autobiographical.
 
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