“Building a theatre for Jerry Bruckheimer is a lot like building a set of golf clubs for Tiger Woods,” says Eric Thies, principal at DSI Luxury Technology, who talks to CE Pro Europe about the LA install company’s latest high profile Barco projector project.
Indeed, it is not every day that an integration company works with a client this high profile. Recognised as one of the most successful producers of all time, Bruckheimer earned the nickname ‘Mr Blockbuster’ due to his unstoppable track record of high-grossing films. Overall, his films have grossed over $13 billion, not to mention launching the careers of numerous actors and directors.
For those unfamiliar with his work, Bruckheimer has enjoyed a long career as a film and TV producer, responsible for bringing us Beverly Hills Cop, Flashdance, Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Bad Boys, Enemy of the State, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean. In July 2003, he was honoured by Variety magazine as the first producer in Hollywood history to produce the top two highest-grossing films of a single weekend, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Bad Boys II.
And that’s just cherry picking the highlights from his film career. Equally prolific in the world of TV, Bruckheimer is the man responsible for all your favourite small-screen crime thrillers, namely CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Cold Case and CE Pro Eu’s personal favourite, Without a Trace. At one point, three of his TV series ranked among the top 10 in the US ratings – a unique feat in television.
A close collaborator with Michael Bay having worked together on Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Armageddon and Pearl Harbour, Bruckheimer perhaps took note of the director’s choice of home cinema projector – a Barco Ultra-Bright 4K DLP.
“Jerry wanted the best on the market,” Eric nods. “He wanted something that was state-of-the-art, 4K, 3D, reliable and able to play content directly from the studios. We have a reputation for delivering stellar screening room experiences for the Hollywood elite, so the build team sought us out knowing they had a special client to make happy. The screening room has been part of this historical home for decades and decades. We needed to bring it into the 21st century and amp up the performance using the existing footprint.”
The producer’s Beverly Hills home is distinctive in itself, representing a storied past as the site of many a lavish party, as well as numerous movie screenings hosting the Who’s Who of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Built in 1927, it pays homage to the Roaring 20’s, sporting checkerboard tiles in the main home with deep crimson and rich gold velvet décor in the movie theatre. In a nod toward nostalgia, Bruckheimer displays two original 35mm projectors, although he only uses his new Barco digital projector to screen films.
When setting out to design the new theatre, the producer wanted to create a unique space befitting the grandeur of his home that went beyond the typical movie house feel.
“Although Jerry downplayed the importance of the room initially, nobody on our side was prepared to deliver anything but a remarkable movie-watching experience,” Eric states.
“We pushed pretty hard to make sure that the room had good isolation and top-notch acoustic design. For this, we brought in Ryan Brown and Sam Cavitt to do all of the acoustical engineering and construction specs for isolation. The end result is miles above the original room performance.
“We had to take a room and home that had historic significance and update it to accommodate a larger screen, an insane amount of speakers and also support room within a room construction for sound isolation. Not to mention we had an interior design team with a very strong vision that had to be factored in. Our typical project starts with a blank sheet of paper. With this theatre, we had an enormous amount of constraints in order to deliver our technology vision!”
Case in point being the fact that the room did not have the height needed to support the new larger screen size, meaning the room had to be lowered to accommodate.
“Fortunately there was room in the foundation to go down,” Eric explains. “One side of the room had a series of French doors that had to be dealt with for light control and acoustics. Also the room had to be completely re-framed to support the 20+ speakers.
“Building a theatre for Jerry Bruckheimer is a lot like building a set of golf clubs for Tiger Woods,” he muses. “We all felt the pressure to perform but it was a positive pressure. The entire team was very excited about building something great for a person that has the capacity to appreciate our hard work. Pressure-filled, but a lot of fun.”
“Part of Jerry’s success is that he surrounds himself with experts and relies on them to help him make great decisions,” Eric explains. “He did not present a list of demands but looked to us for recommendations on what products would be right for his project.”
Taking centre stage is the Barco Residential Prometheus 4K projector, complemented by a Barco IMB media server, Apple TV and DirecTV set-top boxes and an Oppo-Digital Blu-ray Disc player – all of which are tucked inside a custom-built projection booth where Bruckheimer can also load up 35 millimetre film to view.
“Every filmmaker wants their work to be reproduced in the best possible way; this is a filmmakers projector,” Eric asserts. “It offers unmatched colour performance, deep contrast and eye-popping edge detail. It will make almost any content pop.”
Also installed was a media server that grants access to films on the same day as they are released at commercial cinemas, in addition to a 17-foot-wide Da-Lite projection screen equipped with a masking system that alters the shape of the screen to suit every aspect ratio, including 16:9 (widescreen), 2.35:1 (CinemaScope), and 1.85:1 (when viewing 35mm film).
Audio comes via 32 concealed speakers and six subwoofers from JBL Synthesis and Revel, which are hidden in the walls and ceiling.
Elsewhere in the home, the whole-house audio and video system is powered and driven by a Savant A/V matrix switcher, while Sonance Invisible Series in-ceiling speakers are used throughout. Meanwhile, each light and all 12 thermostats are integrated into the Savant ecosystem for App-based control, while a Lutron HomeWorks QS System offers an alternative control option.
Eric is confident that this screening room stands out even amongst Bruckheimer’s peers. “The interiors are a beautiful art deco design by Thierry Despont that set the stage for something special,” he says proudly. “When the lights go out and the system fires up, it just becomes a knock-your-socks off ‘wow!’ experience. Although Jerry is a very reserved person, it was evident he was thrilled with the performance.”
“Barco has always been a leader in digital cinema and I’m thrilled to have one of their projectors in my own home,” said Bruckheimer following the install. “Barco projectors produce the best and brightest image.”
“With Barco Residential, we really want to bring the focus back on image quality in high-end residential applications, and it doesn’t get much better than the seal of approval from a movie mogul of Jerry Bruckheimer’s stature,” adds Tim Sinnaeve, managing director for high-end residential at Barco.
“When one of your core values is image quality, putting it into the homes of the most demanding professionals in the world is really putting your money where your mouth is in terms of credibility. Hopefully this will inspire potential clients and help set new standards for high-end home theatres.”
“Personally, I love the fact that the room looks like a studio mogul’s screening room from the 1940’s yet it is packed with the latest technology all of which is completely invisible to someone sitting in the room,” Eric concludes. “With the exception of an iPad sitting on a table, there are no clues of when this room was built! We all worked really hard to deliver this amazing screening room and very proud of the end result.”
“With high-profile customers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, it is very clear to us that as a company and technology leader we have a lot to offer in high-end residential applications,” Tim furthers.
“This is all about creating an experience that suits the tastes and lifestyle of the client, and in order to create an exceptional experience with the performance levels required, you need the best technologies and the right partners that share a passion and commitment to delivering only the finest end result in the industry. Our custom installer partners are critical, and in Barco Residential they can find a partner that not only has a vision and passion for the high-end residential market, but that can deliver the technology and solutions to realise that vision.”