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How To Create A Backyard Theater

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Enjoying outdoor movies makes summer time fun!

There's something pretty special about watching the sun set and then enjoying one of your favorite movies while the night comes alive around you. It's a memorable moment that brings families and friends closer together. And you don't need to wait for your local community park to host a night out at the movies to make it a reality. With the right know-how and equipment you can turn your little corner of the earth into a super cool backyard theater. Here we'll go over what you need so you can make any night into an outdoor movie night. 

Camp Chef Portable Movie Screen
This set-up below is not only great for your backyard, you can take it nearly anywhere else too. Everything here is portable and powered internally, no cords or AC outlets required. That's key for taking your backyard theater with you camping, adventuring, on vacation, or just down the road. So let's get that backyard theater started. Here's what you'll need:

An outdoor movie theater screen

Camp Chef 120-Inch Portable Outdoor Movie Theater Screen
Amazon Price: $289.95 $169.07 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 8, 2013)

No movie experience works without a big screen. Watching it on your iPad or tablet just doesn't count as a backyard movie experience. It's got to feel larger than life. 

If you happen to have a big white wall on your property, especially if it's freshly painted and relatively smooth, you may be in luck to have a big screen built right into your home! Set up the equipment below and fire up the movie against that backdrop. 

Camp Chef 120-Inch Portable Outdoor Movie Theater Screen
But for most people, you're going to need some sort of outdoor movie screen, especially if portability is a big deal. There are all types of outdoor screens, the most popular are typically either inflatable or foldable. In both cases, there are typically ways to anchor the screen into the ground to keep it from tipping over due to light wind. Obviously any heavy wind night is not a good night for placing a movie screen, but the tie downs are definitely great for stabilizing on normal nights.

My favorite of them all is the Camp Chef movie theater screen above. It's the foldable variety and it comes with a nice carrying case for portability. I love its low profile compared to the bulkier inflatable screens. Foldable screens take more set up (think of it like putting up a tent), but I think it's worth it for the look. And this Camp Chef screen is ten feet across! Now that's a movie experience.

A battery-powered projector with Blu-ray/DVD built in

You probably guessed a projector would be needed, but not just any projector. The best ones for backyard theaters will be both battery-powered and DVD or Blu-ray ready. You want the battery power so you don't need to run cords back to a house outlet (limiting your portability). And the same goes for the DVD or Blu-ray player. If the projector doesn't have one built-in, then you need to attach another gadget (laptop, iPad) along with awkward cords to get any sort of movie going. That isn't an elegant backyard theater experience at all. 

ViewSonic Projector

The ViewSonic here is an excellent choice if you're purchasing a new one for your outdoor movie playing. It's battery-powered and plays Blu-rays-- it even plays 3D Blu-ray discs if you want to really amp up your outdoor viewing. Plus, it has a built in speaker, though the sound isn't "super cool backyard theater" level great. I still recommend getting an external speaker to experience the best movie sound that you can, but the built-in speaker could do in a serious pinch.  

A projector stand

Da-Lite Screen 203 Project-o Stand Projection 11.25INX19IN Table Shelf
Amazon Price: $164.99 $112.86 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 8, 2013)

Because you never know where you may be when the itch for a backyard theater hits, it's smart to have a projector stand that's adjustable in height. Yes, for normal backyard viewing, a side table (or a picnic table) can do just fine, and if that's all you're using your backyard theater set-up for, then you're probably ready in this respect.

Da-Lite Projector Stand

But if you're traveling with your backyard theater set up, you'll want something much more portable and flexible. You never know the ground you're going to have to work with. It can mean tricky angles for your projector off of a normal table. Something like the Da-Lite projector stand above will make set-up a whole lot easier. 

An audio speaker for the crispest movie sound

Jawbone Big Jambox
As I mentioned earlier, if you've got a projector with an integrated speaker, you can work with that if you'd like. But normally those speakers are pretty weak. They are great for office settings to hear basic sound, but they aren't made for creating the super cool outdoor movie experience you're looking for here. Luckily, there have been many recent developments in portable, battery-powered rechargeable speakers. There are some excellent ones out there that are amazingly small for their audio punch, and they can link to a projector via Bluetooth or auxiliary port. Obviously, I've preached to steer clear of cords in this post, but this is the exception. One small auxiliary cord is well worth the sound boost if your projector happens to not have Bluetooth. 

Both Bose and Jawbone make great speakers for this, but in this instance, I prefer the Jawbone Jambox.  For me the sound is just slightly better. But either work, and best of all--since they're Bluetooth, you can also use them to play music from your smart phone while you're getting your backyard theater all set up. 

The right outdoor seating

You may be thinking to yourself that any outdoor seat is a potential backyard theater seat, and yes that's true. But that's a bit like saying a stool can work for watching movies in your living room. You can do it, but do you really want to? Do you want to sit in an uncomfortable wicker chair or a stretched out fabric lawn chair for a few hours? That could ruin your backyard theater experience.

Strathwood Basics Anti-Gravity Chair

Why not approach your backyard theater as you would a special movie room in your home? Look for super comfy portable chairs that let you lounge just enough to relax. You want to make the experience special, and the seating is a big part of it. The Strathwood recliner folding chairs above are really perfect for this. They're super comfortable while still being very portable. They even look a little like theater seats with the headrest and arms.

Make the outdoor movie experience memorable

When you pull together all of these pieces, you've got the mix to turn your otherwise basic yard into an amazing backyard theater. Seriously, this brings a high level of awe factor to the table. It's the type of thing that your family, friends, camping buddies, and neighbors will be amazed that you pulled off. And you'll be building good times now and memories for years to come. What's not to like?



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