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Published on March 11th, 2015 | by gareth


Popcorn & the Big Screen: Backyard Cinema Ideas

Backyard Cinema Ideas

Going to the movies is one of the quintessential American experiences. From watching at home, going out to your local theater or even the throwback of the drive-in, watching a good movie is always a great time and even more fun to do with friends.

Have friends over and host an old-fashioned backyard movie experience. Set up your own outdoor movie theater. Relive a cult classic or view the latest new release. Have the time? Host a double feature on a late summer night. Dish offers TV and movies anywhere.

There are a few important elements for a good theater: the screen, projector and speakers.


The silver screen is ubiquitous when it comes to the movie-going experience. You might not see the projector or the speakers but it is impossible not to see the screen. First, think about what size screen you want. This mainly depends on your location and how many people you plan to invite. A screen with an aspect ratio of 16:9 is going to be your best bet.

Determine where you want your screen and measure the horizontal distance, then multiply that number by 0.56. This gives you the vertical size. You can buy old projector screens for fairly cheap or a specially designed inflatable screen from Target. Even a large white sheet will suffice. The screen can be attached to a wall or building side or you can build a frame from PVC piping to give more flexibility of where to put it. In a pinch, hang a sheet between two trees or against a backyard fence.


The projector is the next important aspect to consider. By placing your theater outside, you will have to compete with the ambient lighting of your area. This can be remedied by having a projector that is set to maximum brightness. A projector with a lumen rating of at least 2,000 is a good place to start, but you may need more depending on your location. Remember is to check the distance rating on the projector, and go with something at least 1080p. Research and read reviews before you buy. You don’t want to purchase one that will give you a poor image.


Audio is the often-overlooked aspect of movie watching. Set up larger cabinet speakers to output enough sound for a small backyard. If you have a larger area, spread the speakers throughout the audience area to help make it a better experience for everyone.


You may be focused on the viewing technology, but snacks are essential to the movie experience! Fill theater popcorn tubs with popcorn and include a variety of candy. Junior Mints, SnoCaps and Sour Patch Kids are movie-goer favorites.

An outdoor movie theater can be made for almost any budget or size. It can be a really fun way to watch movies with a good group of friends and it’s a project that anyone can manage. Instead of heading out to the theater, make your own. Kick back, relax and enjoy the experience.

About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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