From the THX specifications for  movie theaters:


The vertical viewing angle is measured at seated eye height from the front row center seat to the top of the tallest projected image. SMPTE standard EG-18-1994 notes that:

"for most viewers physical discomfort begins when this angle exceeds 35 degrees. We strongly recommend that the layout of the auditorium adheres to this engineering guideline."


This guideline would be difficult to exceed in a home theater, with most vertical viewing angles in the 15-20 degree range. See the diagram below for an example.

The THX cinema standards have no references to a "best" or "optimal" vertical viewing angle.  However, normal human vision's optimal cone of vision has a radius of approximately 15 degrees. From this I'd suggest that anything in the range of 10-20 degrees would be good. With larger values causing increased eye and neck strain.

Vertical Viewing Angle

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Side view of a typical front projection home theater.  The same concepts hold for rear projection and flat-panel displays.  A diagram such as this, drawn to scale, is a good way to compute the minimum screen mounting height and the vertical viewing angle.