How to Make a Movie Theater in House for Under $2000

home movie theater in basement

Written by Andrew

July 10, 2020

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Ever since I became a homeowner I have dreamed about having a movie theater in my house. But they can be costly. The average price of a movie theater room can range up to $30,000. So naturally my goal is to do it for a lot less than that. Let’s break down the basics of what you will need for a home theater room and see how it goes price wise.

Here is how I build my home movie theater for as little as $2000.

Projector or TV in a Theater Room?

Depending on the size of the room and what you are trying to achieve this decision will likely be a cost choice based on size. While LED tv’s have come down in price a lot, getting a LED tv over 75 inches is still going to cost you thousands of dollars. Whereas a projector and screen can be significantly less.

So let’s assume you go with the buying a projector route like we did.

Adding a movie theater into your house means that you’re going to need a little bit of space. The first thing you want to look at is the size of the room and what kind of screen that you will need.

Picking a screen size for your movie theater in house

Picking out a screen size is going to be your first challenge. The best thing to do is to measure out the dimensions of the screen you’re looking at and put some Post-its on a wall to see how it actually looks. From there you can decide if that is too big or too small and move the Post-it notes accordingly to see how big is screen make sense for the room.

Our choice was this 120 inch projector. It was really easy to assemble (make sure you have someone to help) and took us less than an hour to assemble and mount. There are a whole bunch of things you can consider when it comes to a projector screen, and we’re very happy with this one. We chose Elite screens here are som you can choose from.


Selecting a Projector

The next thing you’re going to need is your projector. We bought this Benq 4K projector for less than $1,500 and we’re very happy with it. The picture on it is amazing and has extremely vibrant colors. Plus it’s 3D so if you have some 3D movies there is that experience too. Plus it’s true 4k not a double HD or anything else. It’s very impressive with our Apple TV.

Buy this item here

It has okay built in sound so you may want to upgrade to a sound system (we did) but that’s entirely up to you.

Here’s ours set up using this ceiling mount. This was the smallest hole we could put in the ceiling and it’s only visible when you look at it from certain angles. If you don’t have a suspended drop ceiling, then you could just mount it to the stud behind the drywall.

benq tk850 projector 4k hdr

Here is a side view of the projector so you can see the wires, they come through the ceiling mount so they remain pretty hidden.

side view of benq tk850 projector with cables

 

Couple of notes on selecting a projector  for your movie theater in house

The next thing will be the throw rate on the projector. don’t let the technical term scare you all it means is the size of the screen relative to the distance of the projector from the screen. Before you buy a projector most will have a guide that gives you how far away in your projector needs to be. If you are looking for a projector under $1,000 here are a few to check out.



After you have the projector and the screen picked out the next thing you’re going to decide is how you are mounting the projector will it be a wall mount, a tabletop, or a ceiling mount. Personally we went with the ceiling mount because it was the nicest way to mount a projector that guaranteed nobody would be tripping over wires the only issue with this is that you may need to get a plug put in the ceiling or run a wire to a close by Outlet on the wall.

This is the wall mount that we used, if it’s under $20 you’ve got a good deal. It took a little figuring out for the Benq but we’re talking 20 minutes and a quick google. Once it’s mounted you’re set.

The table top projectors are getting better and better there are even short throw ratio ones which can sit directly underneath the screen. This is great if you don’t want to put holes in your wall or ceiling and don’t have a lot of space. Check out this one by Vava if you don’t have a very big room. I looked at this one very long, but ultimately decided on the Benq.

Media Connections

So far we have the screen, the projector, and how far back it needs to be. The next thing you’re going to need to decide is how you are running the media to the projector. Unlike smart TV’s most projectors are just a projector.

You don’t want to have a smart projector as it means that there’s less internal dedicated to the processing of the image. if you are at all like me you will have noticed that smart TVs while I’m great are not nearly as good as tabletop boxes such as Apple TV Roku or Fire Sticks.

We cut the cord on our cable a few months back and loved it. the only thing we miss is sports and even that’s not too hard if we want a subscription to one of the sports packages. of course there is always sling TV to if You want a cable subscription.

 

Cables

We decided to run the cables through the walls and mount the Apple TV 4K in an entertainment stand. We also had a second cable for our PlayStation so that we could do some gaming on the screen. You haven’t lived until you gamed on 120 inch projector screen.

We got a 4K HDMI cable and an optical cable for separate sound (our amp is old so we had to buy this). They were super cheap on Amazon. Amazon basics has a lot of affordable stuff and this HDMI 25 foot cable wire was very heavy duty.

Seating Options for in House Movie theater

Theater Seating

The next thing you’re going to need to think about is seating. Of course we all think about the best movie theater seats, and you can get those with a caveat. Depending on the size of your room and how it is shaped you may need to have two rows which would mean that you would need to build an elevated part of a floor to house the second row of seats.

 

Buy these theater seats here

Other home movie theater seating arrangements

As you can see another way would be to go with a sectional or individual chairs. We love our family movie night so we opted with the sectional that could be split apart and configured in different ways it was well worth it under $700 for the five pieces.

Picking the Right Sound for Your Movie Theater in House

Of course no movie system is complete without a great sound system. There are many ways to do this and we’ve tried several.

Sound bar

On the lower end and definitely more affordable are a standalone soundbar this sets underneath the projector screen and takes care of all the sound you can also get them with a bluetooth subwoofer for some extra bass which goes a long way in adding to your home Movie experience.
I highly recommend this Bose soundbar or this Sonos soundbar. I have also tried this Polk one with the separate bluetooth sub and it’s good too. Just make sure you have the right connections.

Here is the Sonos beam with Alexa built in. We use Sonos all over the house. We just buy one piece at a time.

2.1 Home theater Sound

If you are looking for slightly more in-depth movie listening experience you can go with a 2.1 sound system. this means that you have a left and a right, hence the two in 2.1 and you also have a subwoofer as well.

This will make additional sounds for things like people talking on one out of one speaker to the other in a conversation and 2.1 subwoofer adds more bass which is great for action movies and any movie that is involved in a lot of action.

For this kind of setup you will also need a nap to power the speakers. your projector will need to connect to the app to provide the audio and the amp will amplify the sound to the speakers.

 

3.1 Home theater Sound

3.1 means you can have a soundbar in the front left and right rear speakers and a bass subwoofer. We use this for our living room area and it’s great. We opted to use Sonos because it’s the best way to use this for TV plus you can add on as you want this Sonos soundbar is a great use.

5.1 Home theater Sound and beyond

5.1 sound is what we chose to go with and we’re happy we have it. When people discuss surround sound, 5.1 or greater is what they consider.

5.1 means there are five speakers and a bass speaker (also known as a subwoofer). The five channels are left, right, centre, and then we’re got rear right and rear left in the back. You sit in the middle of all the speakers which allows the sound to come at you from all different angles it is very cool and worth getting at some point if you can’t afford it right away. We have our Bose speakers that are 15 years old and still sound great.

This allows for a more immersive movie viewing experience and you have different sounds coming from different places within the movie and it makes you feel like you were there.

As for the amp, it’s an old Kenwood amp when I replace it, it will be likely with something like this.

Check out Bose speakers here.

What did my home movie theater setup cost?

Based on everything I told you this is what it would have cost to do this room if you’re buying everything brand new.

There you have it, all said it’s $2320 for my home theater set up. If you add in the furniture it’s around $3000.

Build a Home Theater for Under $2000

While you can see that I went over the $2000 limit there is a way to create a home theater in your house for $2000. This will give you the movie set up and you can always add to it as you go.

Here is the bare bones for a home theater set up in your house.

As for everything else, you can use what you already have an add to it as you go.

Voila! There you have it a nice theater that you can start to build around enjoy!

Final Thoughts on Building a Home Movie Theater

You always worry when you build a room like this that it will go unused. I know a lot of people who have built these in the past and are used for a few weeks only to get pushed aside for other rooms in the house.

This is clearly not been the case for us. We watched TV shows every night on it, and movies on the weekends. if not a movie or two during the week if we can squeeze it in this home theatre movie setup is a dream come true and I can’t wait to use our home movie theatre for years to come.

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