Home Theater Seating Layout – Tight spaces

Home Theater Seating Layout – Tight spaces

Generally, back to back spacing of theater chairs run about 38 to 40-inches in most cinemas.
That’s from the back of one chair (say in the front row) to the back of the chair behind it (in the second row).
Now if your home theater room is small, can you have a tighter back to back spacing? The simple answer is, yes.
The critical dimensions that need to be taken into consideration are the depth of the chair and the ‘egress space’.
The depth of the chair is expressed 2 ways. The ‘seat up envelope’ and the ‘seat down envelope’.
(Remember we are talking about real movie theater / cinema seating here, the type of seating with flip-up seat bottom cushions, and (often) cup holder armrests.)
So, the seat up envelope is the depth of the chair with the seat up, when no one is sitting in it.
A typical seat up envelope is 27 inches. And in actuality, it is not the leading edge of the seat bucket that is the farthest most point when measuring the seat up envelope, but rather it is the front edge of the armrests, especially if there is a cup holder on the end of the armrest.
The seat down envelope is typically around 29 inches.
The egress is recommended to be at least 12 inches. In fact California public theaters (California has some of the strictest Fire Codes in the United States) requires a minimum of a 12 inch egress / space, in between the front edge of the theater seat (seat up) and the back of the chair in front of it.
27″ + 12″ = 39 inches.
So since the 12 inch egress dimension should not be any smaller, then you need to look for a model of theater seating that offers a smaller seat up envelope.
Take a look at the Galaxy and the Cinema Star rocking theater seats.
The Galaxy in a 40 ½” back height has a 25 1/8″ seat up envelope. So, 25 1/8″ + 12″ = 37 1/8″ minimum back-to-back spacing.
The Cinema Star in a 40 ½” back height has a 24 3/16″ seat up envelope. So, 24 3/6″ + 12″ = 36 3/6″ minimum back-to-back spacing. That’s great.
Now take a look at the Optima fixed back. No cup holder and only a 21″ set up envelope.
The Optima in a 32 ½” back height has a 21″ seat up envelope. So, 21″ + 12″ = 33″ minimum back-to-back spacing.
So just in these three models there is a back-to-back spacing range between 33″ and 37 1/8″.
Also remember that if your back row of seating has a wall behind it, you will need clearance for a rocking chair to move back, to accommodate the rocking motion, 5 to 6 inches is usually enough. (The Galaxy and Cinema Star actually feature an adjustable rocker mechanism, allowing you to manually adjust the chair to rock anywhere from 2 to 6 inches, back and forth.) A fixed back chair (Like the Optima, Smart or Festival chairs) only need about 2 inches of clearance behind them and the wall. Yes the fixed back chairs do not rock back per se, they do flex a bit, depending on the weight of the person sitting in the chair.
Take a look at the Tools Page of Celebrity Seating to learn more about this critical back to back spacing dimension. This dimension needs to be considered in determining your seating layout especially a tight for space theater room. http://www.celebrityseating.com/index.php?page_id=celebrity-seating-tools
Of course if you can increase that 12” egress then you will get more legroom, and you won’t have to get up when the person sitting next to you needs to get by you. – Wil Kovacs

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20 Responses to “Home Theater Seating Layout – Tight spaces”

  1. […] Theater room seating layout help for tight spaces. | Home Theater … […]

  2. This topic was very informative and well written. I plan to do some more research on theater seating. Thanks for sharing this timely information. We need more info like this.

  3. Home Theater says:

    These are good solutions to a problem for a lot of people who want to get that home theater experience at home, but surely home theater should be about comfort, not being crammed in? In this situation I would recommend that people seriously think about how many people they want to fit in to their home theater and whether a sofa would be better than cinema chairs.

  4. […] Theater room seating layout help for tight spaces. | Home Theater … […]

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