It has long been considered the ultimate goal for this crazy hobby of ours to create a so-called “bat cave” home theater. No, that doesn’t necessarily mean a TV room designed to look like Batman’s hideout, though that would be pretty darn cool. Rather, it’s a dedicated viewing space with an HD projector, plush theater chairs, and dark walls and furniture that will reject ambient light. There should be no windows in this room. Or, at the very least, you should be able to completely block those windows out when watching movies. Typically, finished basements are best suited for this application. To get the highest video quality and the most theatrical-style experience at home, you need to eliminate any potential light reflections and other distractions. However, a recent article from CEPro suggests that professional home theater installers have been seeing a trend away from dedicated theater rooms, in favor of multi-purpose “great rooms.”
According to the article, “It’s more difficult to sell dedicated theater rooms these days. Fewer homeowners are willing to give up the square footage for a room that might not be used frequently.”
Is this merely a function of the country’s economic woes? Doubtful. The kind of people who’d hire a home theater installer are probably not overly affected by or concerned about money issues. A spokesman from installer Definitive Audio says, “In our experience, the dedicated theaters are still being done, but at a much slower rate…We are seeing a transition toward the multipurpose room that has one or two screens – a large flat panel that is used for normal daytime viewing and a larger movie screen that may drop in front of it for a theatrical type experience for watching movies.”
In other words, people are still spending the money on elaborate constructions projects, just not exclusively for movie-watching.
If I had to guess, I’d say this is more a factor of our culture’s declining attention spans. Between TV, the internet, video games, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and everything else going on in modern life, do people still want to sit in a darkened room and do nothing but watch a movie for a couple hours? Moreover, do they want to have rooms in their houses just for that purpose?
One of the troubling side effects of this trend (as far as the consumer electronics industry is concerned) is that these multi-purpose rooms are not always suitable for 3-D, which requires high light output from the display and a minimum of ambient reflections. The move away from dedicated home theater spaces is only going to make 3-D an even harder sell for many consumers.