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Build your backyard movie theater

backyard movie theater
You don’t have to venture out to enjoy the drive-in experience. You can do it at home. All you need is a backyard, an inexpensive projector, a Bluetooth speaker, snacks and friends. Here’s how to throw the perfect backyard movie night. 

Map out the yard
Where will you put the screen, the projector and the people? These are important questions. If your screen is 120-inches from corner to corner, your projector will need to be at least 10-feet from the screen to maximize it. This is sometimes called the ‘throw distance’ by professionals. It’s not vital that you get it exact, but it will make your movie-going experience that much better.

Also, consider nearby light sources, such as your neighbor’s motion detector, open windows, and street lights.

Do you have wi-fi and power?
Take note where you have a power outlet. You might need an extension cord. Also, does your wi-fi reach the theatre area? If not, you may be forced to play movies from DVD or Blu-ray. 

Buy a screen
Yes, you can use a white bedsheet. But your image will be washed out and hard to see. That’s because a bedsheet does not reflect as much light as a purpose-built screen. Inflatable screens, as well as options that can be displayed using rope or PVC pipe, are available online. While we love our inflatable screen, even a slight wind can cause issues. Whatever option you choose, be sure it’s tied down and secure before starting your film.

Spec sheets matter
When choosing your LED projector, price isn’t the issue. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a model that will work great in your backyard. Look for projectors with at least 3,000 lumens, an HDMI port (for your computer or media player such as an Amazon Fire), an audio-out port, and the ability to project a 120-inch image. Some nice-to-have options include resolutions of at least 1080p, wi-fi and app capability (so you can stream Netflix), and Bluetooth capability (for wireless audio). 

Improve your sound quality
A small, portable Bluetooth speaker is a great way to deliver excellent audio quality to your audience. If your projector or media player supports it, you could also allow each member to connect with their own Bluetooth headset or earbuds. 

Choosing the right movie
This probably goes without saying, but not everyone appreciates an outdoor film — especially neighbors. Consider limiting your movies to anything rated G or PG. This will ensure no local decency laws are broken. And keep the volume down unless you want a visit from the decibel police.

Keep your movies private
Showing a movie in your backyard loosely fits within copyright guidelines. But if you charge moviegoers a fee, or show the film to too many people, it could be considered a public viewing. And that is when you could face a fine or lawsuit. To stay within the law, keep your movies free and private. Only invite friends and family and keep the gathering small.

Add the finishing touches
Use blankets or lawn chairs for your audience. And because clean-up will be a snap, offer messy snacks, soda, or whatever else your friends and family enjoy with their movie. Texting special smartphone movie passes or printing Coming Soon posters and posting those around the house, are nice additional touches.

One last thought: don’t forget the bug spray!