Financier Marc Bell recently spent $1.5 million turning his home theater into the USS Enterprise, the spaceship featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Florida-based Bell first became interested in Star Trek when he was 10 years old, when he chanced upon a 24-hour Star Trek marathon on TV, staying up late to watch the whole thing.
Bell is managing partner of Marc Bell Capital and chairman of Terran Orbital, a company that manufactures satellite components for NASA, and was also a producer of Broadway’s Jersey Boys and Rock of Ages, among other shows. In addition, the 48-year-old Trekkie also served as CEO of the company that owned Penthouse magazine for a time.
Bell's eight-bedroom, 27,000-square-foot home was listed at $35 million in 2014, although he later took it off the market at the request of his children, who wanted to finish school in the home they grew up in.
He started working on the home cinema with Jay Miller of Boca Raton-based Acoustic Innovations in 2002 before construction on his home even began, taking them four years to complete.
“Everything you see in the room is custom, down to the little architectural details,” says Bell. “We spent a lot of time studying pictures of the show.”
A D-Box controller manipulates hydraulics installed beneath the floorboards, meaning the entire room shakes when anything loud happens on screen.
The room also includes a JBL Synthesis sound system, which at the time of installation was only used in commercial theaters. The audio system is currently being upgraded to Dolby Atmos specifications and Bell plans to install a 4K projector.
A big movie fan, Bell has had over 3,500 films digitized, which are stored and streamed through a Kaleidescape server. He also spent approximately $35,000 on a Prima Cinema system, allowing him and his family to watch films at home the day they are released in commercial cinemas.
A wraparound control center surrounds the 11 custom leather chairs in the theater, eight of which recline into beds, while the doors that open into the theater are exact replicas of the Turbolift doors as seen on the TV show. When someone steps on the circular “transporter,” the doors open with that familiar “whoosh” sound.
Look Inside This Star Trek Home Theater
The “ready room” acts as a lobby for the home’s movie theater, which was inspired by Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s office of the same name. The ceiling has a silver ‘X’ and a starfield made of LEDs, while the carpet beneath was customized to mirror the ceiling’s design. Located just outside the theater, the room serves as a sci-fi-themed display area, lounge and candy bar.
The phaser rifle mounted on the bar is a prop that Bell said was used in Star Trek: First Contact, and the black glass on the bar encases three Van de Graaff generators; the spherical machines that make a person’s hair stand on end when touched. These flat versions contain electrical lights that follow the movement of your finger.
Trekkies will no doubt recognize the show’s wooden “horn,” a wraparound control center often manned by Worf on the series, which in this home cinema includes a touchscreen control panel that the family uses to manage everything from the theater’s lighting to what’s on the high-definition projector.
The ceiling is lighted by a “starfield,” comprised of hundreds of fiber-optic lights that twinkle at different frequencies depending how far away they are.
Bell is very much into his Star Trek memorabilia. In fact, he estimates his to be worth approximately $1 million, including original costumes, starship models used for special effects and the ears worn by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock character.
Bell's wife, Jennifer Bell, works in a marketing and sales capacity for several of her husband’s ventures, and says that she finds his obsession with Star Trek “cute; as long as [Bell doesn't] wear Nimoy’s ears around the house.”
The couple and their three children try to watch films or TV shows in the custom home cinema at least every other night.
“It’s a great place to watch Game of Thrones,” says Bell. “Nothing beats watching it on the big screen.”
Despite his love for Star Trek, interestingly, Bell won’t be watching the new Star Trek Beyond film at home. For the past 25 years, he’s rented a local movie theater for every Star Trek film release and has taken all of his employees, friends and their children along on opening night.
“Our theater only holds 11 people,” he says. “The next one will be bigger.”