How to Create an Outdoor Movie Theater

Three Methods:Set the SceneCreate Your Movie ScreenSet Up Projection and Audio

Whether you are camping in the backyard or are planning a night of movies under the stars, creating an outdoor movie theater will impress friends and family, making for a night everyone will remember.

Method 1
Set the Scene

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    Find a location for your outdoor theater. Identify a place in your yard that will accommodate the screen and your guests. If you plan to project the film onto a screen or white sheet that you hang on the side of the house, take that placement into consideration.
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    Choose seating. You could either arrange lawn chairs around the screen or you could get funky and place hay bales or large blankets and comforters on the ground.
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    Consider the elements. It can get buggy at night so you should have bug spray handy as well as lit citronella candles placed around the perimeter of your “theater.”
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    Consider where you will set up your movie projector in relation to where your guests are sitting.

Method 2
Create Your Movie Screen

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    Hang a clean, white sheet on the side of your home for projection. This may be the most “homemade” but is also the most inexpensive and easiest to implement. Consider ironing the sheet to avoid wrinkles and attach with tacks or a substance that won’t damage your home but still hold the sheet in place. Tack sheet on all four corners and along the top.
    • Consider using white vinyl instead of a sheet. You can obtain a sheet sized to your specifications, which may be smoother than using the sheet.
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    Create a framed screen. Measure the area where you’d like to hang the screen and then head to the home improvement store. Purchase plywood planks to fashion into a wooden frame (sized to fit the screen specifications). Fit plywood with white butcher paper or a stretched white sheet or vinyl.
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    Purchase a large piece of wood to be used as the screen. Paint it with reflective white paint and either mount or prop the piece of wood against the wall or chairs, positioned in front of the projector.

Method 3
Set Up Projection and Audio

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    Use a stool, chair or blocks to prop projector so it is in line with your screen. You may also need to play around with distance to determine the best resolution between where the projector is placed.
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    Test drive the projector you plan to use. The bigger the screen the better resolution you’ll need so consider using a high definition projector. Do a test run before showing the movie so you know how it will appear on the screen.
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    Wire audio to an outdoor audio system. Unless your backyard is pre-equipped with sophisticated audio system, consider using a stereo receiver and any speakers you have at home.


  • Don’t forget about the candy and popcorn for each guest. Create goodie bags for everyone that will keep them munching and crunching throughout the flick.
  • Create movie posters and programs for each guest. Use clip art and photos from the Internet to ready your guests for what’s to come.
  • Check the DVDs before playing to ensure there are no glitches or problems.
  • In the event of rain, create a cozy setting on an outdoor porch if you have enough room.
  • If you are throwing a specific theme type movie night (horror, romance, etc.) ask your guests to come dressed as their favorite character and play a brief game of “guess who” before the movie begins.

Article Info

Categories: Cinemas