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What You Need for a DIY Backyard Movie Theater

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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DIY Outdoor Projectorvgajic/Getty Images

DIY Outdoor Projector

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.). Don't rush this purchase.
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DIY Outdoor Movie ScreenTake Photo/shutterstock

DIY Outdoor Movie 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. Looking for a more go-big-or-go-home screen for a larger group? Try renting an inflatable screen. You can also skip the screen and projector altogether by buying an outdoor TV.
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Speakers for Your DIY Outdoor Projector Screenmuratart/shutterstock

Speakers for Your DIY Outdoor Projector Screen

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 (a three-piece set is usually sufficient) 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. Check out our ultimate buying guide on home theater sound systems and wireless speakers.
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Seatsalexandre zveiger/shutterstock


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 sit on the deck or patio 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.
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Snacks and Drinksvgajic/Getty Images

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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Bug Repellentkukaruka/shutterstock

Bug Repellent

Bugs happen, and you need to be prepared. Avoid wet areas or standing water. To ward off mosquitoes try using natural defenses like citronella candles or torches. 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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Good Weatherkaramysh/shutterstock

Good Weather

A calm, warm night is important for the best DIY backyard movie theater. When making plans, always check the weather forecast first. The nice thing about an outdoor movie at your house is that you can always move it indoors if it starts raining, but it's better to choose the right evening first. You won't want your hard-earned DIY outdoor projector and screen ruined by water damage.