Everything You Need for a Backyard Movie Theater

Updated: Mar. 28, 2023

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. Read on to learn how to host a memorable outdoor movie night at your place.

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Couple watching an outdoor projector
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Outdoor Projectors

Don’t even think about dragging your indoor TV system outside. For a real movie night outdoors, you need a portable projector. Fortunately, there are many outdoor projectors available these days at a variety of prices. Pay close attention to the lumens (how bright the projector is) and the resolution at the desired range. You will also want to make sure that your projector can handle your content format (Blu-ray, external hard drive, HDMI connection, etc.).

You have plenty of options for outdoor projectors depending on your budget. One projector to consider if you’re ready to jump in, but not ready to commit to an expensive model is the GooDee HD Movie Projector. An Amazon best seller with more than 6,200 reviews and an overall 4.5-star rating, it’s got 1080p resolution and a maximum screen size of 230 inches. It even comes with built-in stereo speakers. If you’re looking around the holidays, read why this projector is perfect for having a movie night with the whole crew.

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outdoor screen
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Outdoor 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.

You can also skip the screen and projector altogether by buying an outdoor TV.

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outdoor speaker

Outdoor Speakers

You may have a picture, but now you need sound to go with your DIY outdoor movie screen. A basic soundbar is relatively easy to move out and hook up to a projector if it is compatible and if you have one on hand. If you have an outdoor Bluetooth speaker, you may be able to connect it to your projector as well, depending on capabilities. Or consider buying a durable, affordable speaker seat, like this one from Polk Audio, that you can bring out as needed. This is also a good time to explore any local or HOA regulations on noise levels and backyard sound, just in case your DIY backyard movie theater needs a few tweaks.

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outdoor movie seats
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Outdoor Seating

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 use your patio furniture 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. Another option is a set of outdoor folding chairs.

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Movie snacks
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Snacks and Drinks

Go more casual with snack food. Try to use bowls and cups when possible to avoid making a mess, and focus on foods that are easy to eat without getting your hands too dirty or requiring a lot of silverware. There’s a reason popcorn is a popular movie food! When it comes to beverages, think about an outdoor drink dispenser for serving larger crowds.

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citronella candles

Mosquito Repellent

Bugs happen, especially mosquitoes, so you need to be prepared. Avoid wet areas or standing water. To ward off mosquitoes try using natural defenses like citronella candles or torches. We tested the Thermacell mosquito repellent device, and found it to be an effective, safe way to shield yourself from the flying pests. Remember that moths (followed by bats) are naturally attracted to light, so you may have to deal with a certain amount of nighttime creatures.

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