The national average cost of a home theater is $2,000 to $33,000. This includes the price of your home theater system (sound system, TV, wiring, etc.), seating, lighting, and home theater installation from a qualified professional. The price you will pay to create a home theater will depend on the quality and complexity of your home theater system, as well as the local costs to install it.
Whether you're a film buff who wants to recreate the feel of a movie theater in your own home, or an NFL enthusiast installing the best screens and speaker systems in time for football season, building a home theater will give you an elevated home viewing experience. Before you dive into this project, get an estimate of how much it will cost you and what kind of home theater you can get for your budget.
What's included in this cost guide?
A home theater is more than mounting a flat-screen TV on a wall. To create a movie-theater viewing experience home, a full home theater will integrate additional entertainment components, like surround sound speaker systems, theater seats, and dimmable lighting.
Home theater installation specialists handle every aspect of the job, from advising on the best equipment and newest technology, to electrical installation and setup. They can help you decide on TVs, DVD or Blu-ray players, gaming systems, and projector screens. They can also help you select audio components like a surround-sound system, receiver, in-wall speakers, standard speakers, subwoofer, soundbars, and more, depending on the kind of experience you want to create and the budget you have.
A professional can also conceal wires and equipment for a more polished look. Many home theater pros can also help with remotes or wireless control systems, custom lighting, blackout curtains or shades, and theater-worthy seating or furniture.
Home theater prices vary greatly and depend on whether or not a homeowner already has the equipment, the extent of installation and remodel work, and how elaborate the technology is.
The labor costs for installation also vary, depending on the work required. For example, electrical work to install a home theater system or lighting will increase the price more than simply mounting a TV and speakers on a wall and connecting them to existing outlets.
"I have installed home theaters that ranged from $2,500 up to $75,000," says John Young with Smart Home Systems in Lakewood, Colorado. While $75,000 is pretty expensive, "less than 5% of the projects are at the higher end of the scale," he says.
The price of most of his client's home theaters are between $5,000 and $20,000, which allows for an equally balanced audio and video system. “The upper portion of that price range even allows for very good quality Dolby Atmos surround and anamorphic projection video, which, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of what the home theater experience should be," Young says.
Dolby Atmos is a surround-sound system that uses advanced audio triangulation technology to trick the ear into believing a sound is actually moving around a room.
To help you estimate your costs, the examples below show specific job details in specific geographic regions.
|Home theater||Installer and location||Home theater system cost||Labor cost||Total cost|
|60-inch TV and small home system||Starview Enterprises; Omaha, NE||$1,680||$400||$2,080|
|Dolby surround 7.1 theater||Smart Home Systems; Lakewood, CO||$5,000||$1,500||$6,500|
|Projector and screen system with audio wiring throughout home||Smart Home Systems; Lakewood, CO||$9,900||$3,000||$12,900|
|Dolby Atmos 7.4.2 theater||Smart Home Systems; Lakewood, CO||$30,000||$3,500||$33,500|
60-inch TV and small home system: $2,080
For this simple home theater system setup, the client purchased the following components for a total of $1,680:
- Five box speakers and subwoofer: $500
- Three HDMI cables: $30
- Surround amp: $250
- 60-inch TV and bracket: $900
They also spent $400 on the labor cost to hire a Thumbtack pro in Omaha, NE, who setup the home theater system, completed electrical wiring, and mounted the TV.
Dolby Surround 7.1 Theater: $6,500
This homeowner spent a total of $5,000 to purchase:
- 80-inch UHDTV
- Seven surround speakers
- One subwoofer
- An easy-to-use universal remote control for the electronics
This was a more basic theater design and did not include Dolby Atmos Surround Sound. To install the system, they spent $1,500 to hire Smart Home Systems. That cost covered system design, installation, programming, and customer education on how to use and troubleshoot their new theater.
Projector and screen system with audio wiring throughout home: $12,900
For this home-wide project, this homeowner spent a total of $9,900 on their home theater system and all additional components. This covered:
- Approximate wire costs: $2,700
- Projector and bracket: $1,500
- 110-inch screen: $600
- Surround amp: $500
- 5-inch wireless speakers and a subwoofer: $1,400
- Remote control system: $400
- Eight zones of speakers and volume controls: $2,800 ($350 per)
The labor costs of hiring Smart Home systems to install everything was $3,000. This included:
- Prewiring for 5-inch ceiling speakers, one subwoofer, one 20- to 50-inch HDMI, Cat. 6 control wire to projector, 1.5-inch tube for future wire changes, wiring for two to eight additional audio zones throughout the home
- Concealing all equipment (audio boxes, amps, cable box, etc.)
- Set up to control all audio zones by iOS devices from anywhere in the home
Dolby Atmos 7.4.2 theater: $33,500
On the higher end of the price range spectrum, another client spent a total of $30,000 for a high-end home theater system. This included:
- Dolby Atmos surround sound
- A 2.40:1 projector and screen combination
- Motorized anamorphic lens kit for the projector that's remote controlled
- 130-inch Innovations Black Diamond screen, which is actually black as opposed to the traditional white. When paired with a high-performance projector, the black levels rival that of the best UHDTVs and the white levels are equally impressive.
It cost a total of $3,500 to have Smart Home Systems design the home theater system, install and program everything, and educate the customer on how to operate their new system.
Home theaters can be "as simple as a Home Theater in Box or as complex as the imagination allows," says Young with Smart Home Systems. "From bean bags to custom motorized Italian leather theater chairs, I've done it all," he says.
The key factors that determine the cost of a theater are how much technology and finishes go into it. Here are some key areas most home theaters have, according to Young:
Receivers, amplifiers, and speakers are the primary components that make up the audio portion of a home theater. Properly planning the types, quantities, and locations for the speakers is the key to great sound.
Although HDTVs are now available in much larger sizes, a projector will provide a much more cinema-like experience. Not only does a projector provide an image considerably larger than even the largest TV, watching TV or films on a projector is less tiring on the eyes—which comes in handy if you decide to watch the entire Lord of the Rings series.
An additional benefit to a projector is that it can be fitted with an anamorphic lens kit, which, when used with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio screen, eliminates those annoying black bars at the top and bottom of widescreen movies.
Theater seating is one of the key components that make a theater feel like a theater. Sure, a couch will work, but theater seating is ideal.
Acoustic treatments are the most overlooked aspect of a home theater. If the speaker budget is $5,000, Young recommends allocating 20-25% of that budget for acoustic treatments. This equation makes for better sound quality rather than spending the entire audio budget on higher-quality speakers.
Adding lighting control can enhance the entire viewing experience by allowing homeowners to recall preprogrammed lighting scenes that compliment the before, during, and post-viewing experience.
If you're ready to up-level your in-home movie, TV, and sports watching experiences, find a professional near you to get consult on what home theater system works best for your budget. Before you hire an installer, be sure to ask for a free quote and read reviews from previous customers.