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Summer Fun: Backyard Movie Theater

July 20th, 2009 admin

I’ve always thought there was something magical about watching a movie outside. My college did a couple of “Dive-In Movies” where they projected a movie over the pool. People hung around on lounges or floated in inner tubes. I also caught a big movie at a park by the beach once. There is a great thread on about how to set up a movie theater in your own back yard.

Here’s a summary of what you need, and where to get it.

1. Video Source. This one is pretty easy to come by–you just need something that can play your movie. A DVD or BluRay player or anything else that can play one or both of these things (laptop, xBox, Playstation, etc.) will do just fine.

2. Projector. This is definitely the hardest to come by–mostly because they’re expensive. A typical projector runs $500-1000. There’s a thread about finding cheap projectors over at Backyard Theater as well, but I suggest you try to borrow one if you can. Schools and churches usually have projectors, and many colleges will let you check out video equipment, or you could find a friend with a good home theater and see if they’ll lend you a projector for the night. (But take GOOD care of it!)

3. Screen. According to the thread above, you’ll want your screen to be somewhere between 8-16 feet. To keep your costs down, it looks like bedsheets or a long expanse of white wall would be your best bet. You might have to recruit a friend with a white house. 😉

4. Sound. The most cost-effective options mentioned in the Backyard Theater thread were computer speakers (a good set with a subwoofer; check discount stores and eBay) or a boom box with auxillary inputs. Remember, you’re not going for home-theater quality sound, you just want to be able to hear the movie.


The Real Deal. Want to make your feature film look more like what you see in the theaters? A free video player program at VideoLAN ( can merge several files into one cohesive viewing experience, so you can add your own movie previews, a news reel, or pre-feature cartoons.

Snack Pack. What is a movie without snacks? Hit up the dollar store for goodies like candy, popcorn, and soda, or make it a cookout and grill some hotdogs and hamburgers. Or just make s’mores (remember, you can even make s’mores in a toaster oven.)

photo: AaronC

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stefan |  |  July 25th, 2009 at 5:33 am

    I already have a projector and screen, I had some movie nights already, but never outside. I will consider this, but I don’t think my neighbours would like a Star Wars marathon whole night..

  • 2. Pyramid Pyro  |  August 14th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Isn’t it great that portable stereos offer aux jacks as a standard feature for MP3 players. Works great with DVD audio out and a cheap adapter for inexpensive sound… Good times 🙂

  • 3. Surviving College Life &r&hellip  |  October 1st, 2009 at 11:36 am

    […] Want a bigger challenge? Figure out how to show an outdoor movie. […]

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