How We Set Up An Outdoor Movie Night - Pretty Real

How We Set Up An Outdoor Movie Night

2:58 PM

One of the most fun things we use the Patio for is an outdoor movie night. Clearly, we had no idea it would basically become our real-life movie theater experience (Darn Covid) but it now serves as that too. It's a really simple set up but I get asked about it often so I wanted to break down how to set up an outdoor movie night and answer those questions, here.

Tell me about the projector:

First, we use this projector. It was a birthday gift for Joe and when he started looking for one, his two requirements were an HDMI output for streaming and that it was HD. It also has a 'rear projection' mode which came in handy for our backyard campout. We sometimes use a DVD player if we rent a Redbox movie but oftentimes we stream from NetFlix or Amazon Prime- all things that are possible with this projector. EDITED to add- the projector has built-in sound! We don't have to connect it to any other speaker and it's always been loud enough for us.

How do you hang the screen?

This is the screen we use and we have zero complaints! To attach it to the pergola, we use cup hooks (they stay in the pergola and aren't noticeable at all) and bungee cords.

What if I don't have a pergola?

If you don't have a pergola, I've seen people hang screens on their fence, garage, or the house. You could also use a backdrop stand or if you have space, one of those awesome inflatable screens!

Where do you put the projector?

When I looked for outdoor movie set-up ideas, I found that people often put the projector on something low and aim it up but our space is narrow and we also didn't want anyone tripping over it (especially when we're using the fire pit) so we bought this stand to place the projector and DVD player on. It fits behind the sofa and is easy enough to pull out of the garage.

When is the best time for an outdoor movie night?

We love outdoor movies in the fall best- it's fun to curl up under a blanket, use the fire pit, and it gets dark earlier so we're not waiting around to start - it has to be dusk or darker in order to see the movie. We tend to start it at dusk to get the show on the road (our youngest is 5. This might be a non-issue for those with older kids). But any time the weather is conducive, we sneak one in.

How long does the set up take? Is it worth it?

So it doesn't take long at all- maybe 15ish minutes? I mean sure it takes less time to pop a DVD in the player or stream in your living room but this is an experience. Considering the time it takes to go to a movie, this is a fun alternative that's cheaper in the long run- at least for us as a family of 5- once you use it a few times. As a special bonus, here's a video of set up featuring my kids' with a special appearance by yours truly. You're welcome. 

What are some other outdoor movie essentials?

Here are some other outdoor movie night essentials- popcorn, candy, a cozy blanket, a fire, you get the gist. I've shared ideas at the end!

Watching a movie outdoors just never gets old- especially when we invite friends over. You know, whenever we can do that again. What did I miss? Do you have any tips to add? It's seriously one of our favorite things to do and I think we're making fond memories for the kids. Fine, for us too. ♥

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  1. EHD sent me here, and I'm so happy to have found you. We've been gathering materials for an outdoor screening, and on top of being beautiful the details shared are so helpful!

  2. Super cute! We have a projector and got a tripod with purchase for free. I just ordered our screen. Can't wait to do this.

    1. Oh I didn't realize they came with tripods! That's perfect!