How to Create Your Own Outdoor Movie Theater

Bask in the nostalgia of a drive-in movie without leaving your house by creating your own outdoor theater.

We talked to experts from Magnolia at Best Buy —  Antony Varghese, from Store 187 in San Francisco, and David Quisenberry, from Store 180 in Frisco, Texas — on what you need and how to set it up to have the best experience.

Where do we begin?  

The first thing you’re going to need is a projector. “Laser projectors that sit right next to the screen can be really expensive, but they are very good for lowlight situations. They would work really well for an evening movie outside,” Antony said.

Or, you could save some money and purchase a basic DLP projector — which is basically any projector you’ve seen in class rooms, at movies, etc.

But, projectors are useless without something to project onto. Screens come in a variety of sizes and prices—even outdoor models. But if you’re in a pinch, “you could project it onto your garage or a white sheet, it just won’t look as nice,” David said.

How do we play a movie?

You’ll need a source— a device that your movie will play from. “A basic cable or streaming box will do. You just need something that will connect with your projector and play the movie of your choice,” Antony said.

What about audio?

Silent movies were cool 100 years ago, but now? Not so much. “For a movie theater-esque experience a surround sound system with a receiver is your best bet,” David said.

But, if the hassle of multiple speakers is a bit too much for you, “indoor/outdoor speakers will do, or even a sound bar,” Antony added.

How do we set it up?

Now comes the tricky part, setting up the projector and screen. There is no magic distance your projector should be from the screen because it all depends on the projector and screen size. “The website http://www.projectorcentral.com/projection-calculator-pro.cfm can be really helpful, “Antony said. “It would also be ideal to mount your projector up high, on a stable surface, so that people watching the movie don’t get in the way of the projection.”

You will also need a heavy-duty extension cord and a power strip to power your projector, speaker, etc. Make sure you plug into a clear circuit, so you don’t have to deal with a power outage half way through your film.

You’re ready to go!

So lay out some blankets, make some popcorn and watch your favorite movie underneath the starry sky. You might want some bug spray too.