What You Need for a DIY Backyard Movie Theater
An outdoor movie night isn't just for a park or public lawn—you can create a DIY backyard movie theater of your own! All you need is the right equipment and setup.
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Pop up some ‘corn!
While the movie theater might be off limits for now, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch your favorite flicks—and have a whole lot of ambiance, too. A backyard movie combines two of our favorite things: movies and the outdoors. Add a few comfortable touches and invite a handful of friends over for some socially distanced screen time. Get inspired by check out the top drive-in movie theaters around the country.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
DIY outdoor projector
DIY outdoor movie screen
Where will you project your movie? An old DIY standard is a sheet tacked up on a fence or wall. But that isn’t dependable, and the slightest breeze will wreak havoc with the picture. Instead, the ambitious can build a PVC pipe frame for a more professional-looking screen. Or buy an outdoor screen that comes with a firm stand, like this 100-inch screen from P-Jing.Looking for a more go-big-or-go-home screen for a larger group? Try renting an inflatable screen. You can also skip the screen and projector altogether by buying an outdoor TV. Any of these 16 funny family movies also make a great choice for your backyard cinema.
Speakers for your DIY outdoor projector screen
Seats and blankets
Okay, all the important technical elements are ready to go! But now you need to start thinking about the people! Pick a place for everyone to sit: Smaller gatherings can make do with a few blankets, but larger groups may require folding chairs to make enough room. An ideal solution, if possible, is to have people sit on the deck or patio and position the DIY outdoor projector screen in the lawn (house lights must be turned off). Remember to include extra blankets and cushions for maximum outdoor comfort, and use materials that are OK to get damp or a little dirty. We recommend the Picnic Blanket from ChappyWrap. It’s sized at a generous 60” x 80” and is machine-washable.
A movie without popcorn is like a peanut butter sandwich without the jelly. This Nostalgia Vintage Healthy Hot-Air Tabletop Popcorn Maker looks just like an old-fashioned popcorn machine, but pops up 12 cups of popcorn without any oil. Shockingly, movie theaters used to ban popcorn.
When it comes to beverages, think about an outdoor drink dispenser, like this FineDine 1 Gallon glass beverage dispenser for serving a group. Make the night even more fun by mixing up one of these summer cocktails—just make sure the kids know they’re for adults only.
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