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Rather than pace out the width of a cinema, I've always used the "fist" method to compare screen sizes between venues. Hold your fists out in front of you at arms length and use them to quantify the visible width of the screen.

For example, my computer screen in front of me is about 2.5 fists wide. Another: when we watched "Avatar" in a cinema last January the cinema was quite full and we had to sit close -- 7 fists wide. After an hour I was starting to feel motion sickness, so I left my family and friends to sit near the back, in one of the few empty seats. No more problems.

I've not constructed my home theater yet, but my design is gradually settling on a width of approx. 4 fists. For my hands this works out to about 8 ft wide at 11 ft distance.

Certainly this method isn't perfectly transportable from person to person, since hand sizes vary. But it is a very easy method to quantify screen widths -- and the measurement tool is always with you.