Create an Outdoor Movie Theater – Camping & Backyards

Now you can make Friday Night at the Movies a family tradition by creating your own outdoor movie theater! Whether you build it in your backyard, barn or to take camping, we’ll show you everything you need to bring back the drive-in experience with a great creature feature flick, lots of popcorn and snacks but without the car. And guess what? It’s all portable!

While a lot of the newer big rig motorhomes and fifth wheels come with outdoor televisions, they’re way to small for gatherings.

This is precisely why setting up your own DIY outdoor movie theater will win awards with your campers or friends and family.

DIY Outdoor Movie Theater - Always On Liberty

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How to Create the Ultimate Outdoor Movie Theater

At Your Campsite or Backyard!

Watching movies at night at outdoor movie theater - Always On Liberty

Movie Projector

To create the ultimate outdoor movie theater, you’re going to need a portable projector. Through the years, not only have movie projectors downsized in price but they also are compact in size.

When researching outdoor projectors, you need to take a good look at how bright the projector’s light projects onto a screen. Pay attention to the lumens and range resolution.

Also, make certain the projector you are interested in can adhere to your content format (HDMI, external hard drive, Blu-Ray player, Fire Stick, Roku, and smart devices).

If cost is an issue, check out our recommendation, the GooDee HD Outdoor Movie Projector

The GooDee has 1080p resolution that projects a maximum screen size of 230 inches. Also included in it are built-in stereo speakers.

You can easily connect it to your iPhone using an extra Lightning to HDMI Adapter. Or, simply connect your Android smartphone using a Micro USB/Type C to HDMI adapter.

This video projector easily connects with TV Box, Fire Stick TV, Chromecast, PC, laptop, tablet, external speakers, Xbox, DVD player, PS3, PS4, USB stick, media players, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone and etc.

It’s perfect for playing video, TV series, presentation, outdoor movie, gaming and etc. There’s on caveat though. It doesn’t support BlueTooth devices directly.

However, you can still turn it into a BlueTooth device by using a BlueTooth receiver/transmitter. Simply plug it into the projector’s headphone jack and then pair the projector with BlueTooth speakers.

The reason we chose the GooDee is its’ popularity  an Amazon best seller with 6400+ reviews and rates with 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Oh, and don’t forget, you’ll need a sturdy outdoor movie projector stand. The cool thing is you can use  as a small laptop desk or small table too!

Outdoor Movie Theater Gathering

Outdoor Movie Screen

Now that you know which outdoor movie projector to buy, let’s look at what you’re going to use for a movie screen.

For RVs, you could simply tack up a big white sheet onto your motorhome or camper.

However, it’s going to have wrinkles and folds. And, even a slight breeze will ruin your movie viewing. 

I guess you could create your own DIY movie screen for your backyard movie theater setup. Why not just skip all the measuring, tools, supplies and headaches by just getting a projector screen.

Now there are plenty of projector movie screen stands available in different sizes. To get the ultimate motion picture view, check out the portable Khomo Gear projector screen. It’s made of reflective oxford nylon and designed with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

This particular 120” outdoor movie screen has a 160° wide viewing angle and is going to provide you with a unique viewing experience.

This movie projector screen comes with everything you need to assemble it and can be easily set up in less than 10 minutes by one person.

Once it’s set up the rigid support system ensures extreme stability.

For extra reassurance that it won’t tip over from the wind, you can use the same weighted bags we recommend for outdoor screen tents and gazebos.

Outdoor Speakers

To make your movie sound amazing outdoors and to reach farther, you’re going to want a couple external speakers. As we’ve learned, no movie projector puts out enough sound to reach some of your outdoor movie attendees.

Referring to the GooDee outdoor projector I mentioned prior, just use the headphone 3.5mm port to hook up external speakers. You’ll need a 3.5mm to ts/trs/xlr/rca cable depending on the external device you’re using. 

You could use a basic wired/wireless soundbar to hook to your projector outdoors. Or, if you’re not space constrained, an affordable, indoor/outdoor speaker set can bring the sound quality you want to project.

All of that said, please be considerate of your neighbors, whether at home or at your campsite. The last thing you want is to have your neighbors reporting you for noise; especially during designated quiet hours. But hey, you can alleviate that all together by inviting your neighbors over to enjoy the show with you!

Either which way, I totally recommend checking with your Campground rules, HOA or local noise ordinance laws to alleviate disagreements down the road.

Outdoor Theater Seating

Outdoor Seating Comfort

Set up your outdoor movie theater to be open seating. Allow enough space for your friends and family to be able to plop down blankets, ground loungers or your Tommy Bahamas.

Just make certain the grassy area is mowed short. Also, ensure there are no holes that can cause tripping or twisted ankles in the dark.

And, speaking of grassy areas, if you’re going to set up blankets and chairs on your lawn, you may want to dust your lawn with Diatomaceous Earth a day before showtime.

Diatomaceous Earth kills crawling insects such as roaches, fleas, ants, grasshoppers, and more. It’s comprised of food grade organic matter, so no worry of harming children or pets.

Oh, and you’ll definitely want to have a few inexpensive camping blankets for your guests in case they forget their jackets or sweatshirts. They’re nice to wrap up in on chilly movie nights.

Movie Theater Food and Snack Bar

If you’re going to make your outdoor theater event into a fun dinner and a movie, make it easy by serving hotdogs and nachos. Serve them in biodegradable hotdog boats and nacho serving trays. Not only do they make it easier for individual portions but they’re much better for the environment. Yay! No plastic or dishes to wash!

When it comes to beverages, of course you could fill your cooler with cans of soda. Or, you can opt to make a couple different low-sugar drinks like lemonade or unsweetened ice tea using outdoor drink dispensers.

But, to satisfy everyone’s different tastes, you could just set up a cold water dispenser with individual flavor drink packets.

Of course the kids are going to want to chose their own fancy boxes of movie theater candy and bags of chips.

So, set your candy display and chip bag rack to let your movie attendees pick what they want.

Movie Theater Popcorn

popcorn and salts

Popcorn is a given to serve before, during and after your feature film. If you think you’re going to do several outdoor movies in your backyard, consider getting a nostalgic gourmet popcorn cart or tabletop popcorn maker where your movie goers can serve themselves.

But if you’re camping, make it fun using a campfire popcorn making kit! Don’t forget a few flavored salts. And, to make it completely authentic, serve it in those old time popcorn boxes or bags to make it extra fun and easy to handle!

Props and decorations

Movie 3D Glasses

To make your outdoor movie theater look authentic, you may want to set the state by incorporating some cleaver movie theater theme decorations.

And, if you’re planning on showing a 3D movie, you’re going to need 3D glasses for your audience.

Also, a great adult outdoor movie feature is Rocky Horror Picture Show. You’re definitely going to want to make up bags of props to use during portions of the movie.

Keep the bugs away

Of course, since your outdoor movie theater is outdoors, you’re going to want to stock up on plenty of mosquito repellent bug sprays. I highly suggest offering different options for those who may have skin sensitivities.

If your area is prone to ticks, I recommend getting insect repellents containing a high percentage of DEET.

For not only ambiance but also flying insect mitigation, you can place citronella candles on nearby tables or set up tiki torches on the perimeter of your outdoor movie theater setup. We like the TIKI Brand BiteFighter mosquito repellent torch fuel because it burns cleaner with very little soot.

And, I can’t stop raving about our Thermacell mosquito repelling device. They are absolutely amazing because they actually work!

You can now get them in all different colors. It’s an effective and safe way to shield against mosquitos and other flying pests.

And lastly, just be aware that some insects are attracted to light. It’s just one of those nature things you may have to deal with. But that’s all part of enjoying the outdoors.

Wrapping up how you can create your own outdoor movie theater

Outdoor Movie Theater

So, now that you know how to create your own outdoor movie theater, let the fun begin while you set it all up at your campsite or in your own backyard or patio!

Not only will you make amazing Friday Night at the Movies memories with friends and family, but also, you know where your kids are! It’s far better than watching them on digital devices!

Build Your Own Outdoor Movie Theater - Always On Liberty

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