Backyard Movie Theater Guide
With summer winding down and the sun setting a little earlier, it’s the perfect time to set up a DIY backyard movie theater. Picture your kids next sleepover and The Lego Movie being projected onto a 6-foot silver screen or getting the gang together to watch Sunday Night Football this fall under the stars.
It’s easier and than you think and you don’t have to break the bank to achieve it! In this article, we’ll lay out everything you need to set-up your own outdoor movie theater!
What do you need?
Setting up your backyard movie theater can be as extravagant or as spartan as you want depending on your budget and how frequently you’ll use it.
The most basic requirements are a projection screen and projector. Add speakers to boost sound, a blu-ray player or streaming media player, and seating for your guests
Believe it or not creating a backyard movie theater is becoming a pretty popular trend. Because of this, the screens available for your outdoor space are numerous. Of course, you can always hang a sheet against the house or fence but you won’t be able to take as much advantage of advanced picture quality that even the most basic projectors offer. Sheets aren’t built for reflecting images the way projection screens are.
There are 4 types of screens available:
- DIY screen materials are available to create your own screen.
- Pre-made screens that you can hang against the house wall or garage door or build your own stand for.
- Screens with stands that can be easily assembled and disassembled
- Self-supported blow-up screens with motors that inflate the screen
Prices range from $150 – $1000 depending a few different factors.
See our in-depth article on choosing projection screens.
While there are no projectors specifically built for outdoor use there are a wide variety of projectors that are very portable and perfect for the backyard. You don’t need to spend a fortune either (although you certainly could) as the price of HD projectors has dropped in recent years.
First off, there a few different projector segments to take into consideration.
Pico Projectors or hand held’s are small and portable but generally less powerful than their full-size counterparts.
Full-size projectors come with many different options and viewing capabilities and can fill up the largest screens but are a bit less portable.
Lastly, smart or connected projectors are offered in both segments and make streaming content that much easier in an outdoor setting.
You can pay expect to pay anywhere from $50 on projectors to well into the $1000’s depending on HD picture quality, 3D capability, internet connectivity, and lamp hours.
Related: See Our Outdoor Projectors Guide
In planning a backyard movie theater one consideration to keep top of mind are all of the chords needed to connect players to projectors plus extension chords to power projectors and DVD players etc.
The fewer chords the better so consider streaming media players over DVD or Blu-Ray players as they are more compact and in some cases can be powered via USB by the projector. One caveat is that they require a WIFI connection which may or may not be strong enough depending on how far your backyard theater is from your router.
A few low-cost examples are:
Roku Streaming Stick – This compact media player offers just about all the content you need to be able to watch your favorite movies, shows, and sports and can be powered by the projector.
Amazon Fire Stick – Offers services like Netflix, HBO Go, and ESPN Go and can be powered by the projector. Take it inside and use it in a spare bedroom!
HD Antennae – Great for sports these antennae’s are pretty cheap and will pick up over the air broadcasts so anything broadcast on your local channels is available in HD quality.
Streaming HDMI Hardware – A bit more costly, these products connect to your cable or set-top box and stream the HDMI signal wirelessly to a receiver you connect to your projector. Capable of projecting through walls and windows up to around 100′. Distance is a consideration so if your projector is a ways away from your set-top box it might not work for you.
Most projectors don’t come with quality speakers capable of amplifying very far from the source. The good news is that they all come with inputs for external speakers. Add a battery powered inexpensive blue-tooth speaker to amplify sound. Or go big with more expensive loudspeakers, either way most projectors will accommodate audio out in a variety of ways.
The sky is the limit when it comes to lounging around your backyard theater. Get creative with outdoor bean bags, lounge chairs, or hammocks.
See our article on small space outdoor furniture for ideas!
As you can see it doesn’t take much to get a backyard theater up and running and once you do you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.
There’s nothing better than bringing the indoors out and you’ll look at the way you experience movies and sports in an entirely new way. Plus, you have a completely new way to entertain!
So as those hot summer nights give way to crisp autumn evenings get your DIY backyard movie night up and running and enjoy!
Let us know what you use for your backyard movie set up. Leave a comment below!