How to Set Up a Backyard Movie Theater

Do you want to host “Movie Night” at your house? Why try to cram all your friends onto your living room sofa… when you can create your own outdoor movie theater?

Backyard theaters are not only great for watching movies with lots of friends, but kids camp-outs and birthday parties, watching football games and more. You can even set an outdoor movie screen on a protected porch or patio and use it for entertaining all summer long. You may never visit a movie theater again!

Outdoor Theater System
Backyard Theater System w/ Projector, Screen, Speakers & WIFI Blu-Ray Player

There are basically 4 parts to consider when creating your own outdoor movie theater:

  1. The Movie Projector
  2. The Sound System
  3. The Movie Screen
  4. The Movie Player

There are several ways to design your backyard movie theater, and this will usually depend on your budget, the space available and equipment you may already have. According to CNET, you can successfully take on this project, even if you are on a budget.

The Cheap DIY Backyard Movie Theater:

Camp Chef Outdoor Movie ScreenIf you already have a projector, want to buy equipment separately or simply want to save some money, here are some ideas.

Camp Chef makes a portable outdoor movie screen for about $150. It measures 92″ (diagonal), quickly assembles/disassembles and only weighs 16 lbs.

So… you could even take it on camping trips, evening barbecues or tailgaters, friends’ houses, special events, etc.. It can also be used indoors.

Indoor Outdoor SpeakersGood quality indoor-outdoor speakers don’t have to be expensive either. Dual Electronics sells a pair of speakers for about $60.

If you’re like me, you might have started looking for wireless speakers, but the sound quality is not as good – plus you pay more. If you can, go for the wired version. You’ll be happier with the sound and it’s a way better deal.

Wireless Outdoor Speaker for Home Theaters
That said, the wireless version is more versatile because it is portable and doesn’t require the hard wiring set up.

Decide what meets your needs best. If audio performance is less important than portability, then wireless may be your best option.

Rotibox (shown on the right) makes one of the better outdoor wireless speakers. It’s actually smaller than it looks (you can hold it in one hand), but the sound works nicely for home theaters. This runs about $100.

Note: It is sold as a single speaker, not a set.

Keep in mind that some projectors include built-in speakers, like the Optoma HD26. This means that you don’t have to purchase external speakers unless you want to.

Pottery Barn Movie Screen
courtesy of
Another Note: this projector can also be used indoors or outdoors.

A larger backyard theater usually demands louder audio than indoors in a living room. However, you may want to test out the built-in speakers before purchasing external add-ons to see if you even need them.

And instead of purchasing a movie player, you can simply attach your laptop computer or tablet to virtually any projector. By cutting out this expense, you can put the money saved towards your projector.

Outdoor Movie Theater

The All-in-One Backyard Movie Theater

On the other hand, you may want an easy, “turn-key” outdoor movie theater package that includes everything you need. Plus, a large one that can entertain a large group of friends.

This option tends to cost more, but you can get a giant movie screen (9′ size or 16′ size), an impressive sound system, a WIFI blu-ray player and a super-bright, high-contrast Optoma projector.

Do you entertain a lot or plan on using your home movie theater for multiple activities like X Box, Wii, movies, TV, presenting slide shows and home videos, etc..? Then, you’ll appreciate having a high-quality system with HD, great sound, electric-powered screen. Plus, you get quick and easy set-up.

Keep in mind that packages also usually include all the connecting audio and video cables you need, stands for the screens, remote controls and more. These smaller items can add up when purchased separately.

Plus, multi-part packages typically come with set-up instructions – maybe the most priceless part of all!

I like this one from Backyard Theater Systems better because you can use it indoors as well as outside. Connect it your Wii, play video games and even display slide shows from your computer.

Here’s a quick run-down of the easy set-up process:

Find out more here