Building An Outdoor Movie Theatre To Make You Popular This Winter

Yes, outdoor movie theatres may conjure up images of warm summer nights under the stars. However, just because winter in the Southern Hemisphere is upon us, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should be living out the evenings in your living room, despite its warmth and comfort.

The first American-style drive-in movie theatre opened in Australia in 1954. This sparked the opening of some 330 drive-in theatres across Australia. Much loved by families and teens on first dates, the number of traditional drive-ins has quickly dwindled as people became lured by the comfort of plush theatre seating and colour TV’s and VHS made watching films at home more popular.

However, with the renaissance of similarly popular “retro” past-times, drive-ins are experiencing a renaissance. However, with such huge spaces of land becoming increasingly valuable to developers, a growing number of enthusiasts have taken the concept back to its place of origin – the backyard.

Keen to create your own version of a traditional drive-in cinema in your backyard? This article will run through the steps you need to take to build your very own permanent or temporary backyard theatre, as well as give you all the tips and tricks you need to have a successful movie night at your place, making your home the popular place to be this winter.

Setting-Up The Space

1. Select a Screen

The screen you pick is going to end up affecting the quality of the image to quite a large degree. There are a number of options that are worth considering when choosing a screen for your outdoor theatre. First though, determine whether the theatre is going to be temporary or permanent, this will affect your screen choice.

Option 1: Permanent White Wall
Pros: Hassle free - each time you want to watch a movie outside, your screen is already set-up!
Cons: You may need to paint some reflective paint over the top for better viewing. Not everyone wants a permanent white wall dedicated to movie watching.

Option 2: Seamless White Paper
Pros: Cheap and fairly simple to put together
Cons: Paper and water generally don’t mix

Option 3: White Sheet or Curtain
Pros: Affordable, flat, and easy to roll-up and stow away
Cons: Doesn’t provide optimum screen view-ability

Option 4: Weather Proof Screen
These can be bought online or from some outdoor and hardware stores.
Pros: Weatherproof and can be purchased with an in-built stand, they will last many years.
Cons: More costly than DIY options

2. Get Your System Sorted

Projector: It’s best to prioritise over revolution when choosing an outdoor projector. You may think just moving your existing indoor projector outside is the way to go, however, given the temperamental weather in winter, this is not advised. An extension cord and power strip will be effective

Audio: This really is the part that makes the difference. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you must spend a lot of money. Surround sound, while it may be nice, is not a necessity. Volume, rather than excellent clarity should be your main focus.  Good quality speakers can be found second-hand online.

Tip 1: Keep It Dark

This goes without saying – the darker the environment, the more enjoyable the experience. Bright yellow streetlights, neighbours backyard lighting, and a full moon are all going to distract the viewers from the movie.

Tip 2: Keep It Private

Whilst it is unlikely you will get federal police rocking up to your door whilst your movie is on show. There are actually copyright laws that prohibit from charging to watch a film on your own property, or publicly advertising the showing. So, invite your friends and their friends over for dinner and a movie by all means, just don’t go posting this information all over the web or via flyers all over the street.

Tip 3: Don’t Annoy the Neighbours

Safety regulations, noise restrictions, or the fact you live in an apartment with a landlord may mean the backyard home theatre concept may not be able to get off the ground.

Aside from these legal restrictions, there are social norms that need to be navigated. Don’t be that neighbour that is making noise well into the night, particularly in a suburban area. If you do plan on hosting such an event, let your neighbours know beforehand so they can prepare accordingly. Alternatively, invite them.

Tip 4: Make it Comfy

This may be the important aspect to turn your backyard theatre from a simple screen between two trees into an award-winning movie theatre (almost). Ensure your guests are comfortable with the inclusion of a variety of outdoor seating options – lounges, beanbags, blankets, and pillows.

Some of the Bali Republic range of luxury outdoor furniture can be seen below.

Jimbaran 2 Seat Outdoor Sofa

The Bali Outdoor Bench Seat

Padang Outdoor Modular Corner

Tip 5: Turn On The Popcorn Machine

A homemade backyard movie theatre is never going to be a high-end visual experience. Make it a fun and social old-school event rather than making it all about the movie by adding cinema classics like popcorn, loud sound (just be aware of the neighbours), and comfortable seating.