How to Set Up an Outdoor Movie Theater at Home

If you’re nostalgic for the drive-in days of the past, you may be able to easily recreate the experience right at home. These warm nights are perfect for enjoying a movie screening under the stars with family and friends.

Get permission: Before you start setting up, check to make sure that your brilliant idea is actually permittable. Run the idea by your neighbors to find out if they have concerns about noise levels at night (and if they’d like to attend the screening). The last thing you want is the police knocking on your door right when you’ve gotten to the good part of the movie.

Consider the space: Where will you be projecting the show? Your driveway is a great option because it provides a level surface for equipment and is likely close to a power source in the garage. Otherwise, look for a flat surface anywhere around your home. If you’re putting the screen in the backyard, you’ll likely need a lengthy, heavy-duty extension cord, and a power strip.

Arrange the seats: Seating options vary based on location. If you’re setting up on the driveway, you’ll need lawn chairs (or perhaps a comfy old couch). If you’re in the backyard, you can simply spread out a few picnic blankets and throw pillows.

Gather your equipment: The essentials are: a screen, a projector, and speakers. When choosing a projector, focus on brightness and throw distance rating. For audio, go with an all-weather, two-channel system. If your theater is far from the house, make sure you have some form of lighting.

Bring on the refreshments: No movie experience is complete without snacks. And nothing beats an old-fashioned popcorn machine! But of course, since you’re running the show, anything goes: ice cream floats, s’mores, popsicles (or healthier options). The options are limitless.

Now just call up some friends, family, and neighbors and plan a star-studded evening under the stars.

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