How to Throw a Backyard Movie Screening

How to Throw a Backyard Movie Screening

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In this strangest of all summers, it is important to remember there is still room for fun. This season, why not set up a backyard movie theater? When Arizona summer is all about beating the heat, outdoor movie screenings are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and some quality time with your family after the sun’s gone down.

Choose a Spot

Before you get the popcorn going, take a minute to find the best location for your movie night. If you live in the city, you’ll want to find the place in your yard most removed from street light and noise. You’ll also want to consider where the best spots to project onto will be. For some buildings, a smooth outer wall may work, while for others you’ll want to consider setting up a screen.

Ideally, you’ll want a nice-sized area to set up seating with views of your screen (make sure you have plenty of spacing if you are inviting neighbors and friends!) as well as a clear central area for your projector and sound. While many portable speakers can run cordlessly off of rechargeable batteries, most projectors cannot, so you’ll also want to have a power source you can easily connect to.

Gather Your Tech

Today’s technology makes outdoor movie night easier than ever. The tech market today offers a competitive selection of affordable digital projectors. Some things to consider when purchasing a new projector include its brightness and resolution as well as the “throw distance”. 

Throw distance is the ratio between the size of your projected movie and the distance of the projector from the screen. The most common ratio is 2:1 meaning that for every foot away from your image width will increase by two feet. To view a movie 8 feet wide the 2:1 projector would need to be 4 feet back from the screen. If you are working within a tight yard space, innovative projectors with larger throw distance ratios can help you get the look you want.

You’ll also want to make sure your screening will have clear and accurate sound. While most projectors come equipped with small built in speakers, we’ve found you can get much better outdoor sound by hooking up a portable speaker. Bluetooth speakers can offer powerful, portable amplification. While you can make use of bluetooth streaming for your film’s audio, we recommend getting a speaker that allows you to plug in your sound source so that image and sound remain perfectly in sync. 

Options for movie streaming have multiplied in the past decade. Part of the beauty of setting up an outdoor movie theater is you can stream films off the tiny screen of your smart phone and see them larger than life! Modern tech turns almost any smartphone, tablet or laptop into a library of great films to enjoy.


Choose a day for your screening where the weather is clear. Even if the sky is cloudless, it is a good idea to have a tarp on hand in case you need to protect your projection set up from the elements in a hurry. Also, avoid leaving your movie screening electronics outside for long periods. Most electronics can be easily damaged by extreme heat exposure and can be an easy target for thieves if left unattended. 

We like setting up our screening equipment right before sundown so there’s still some daylight to assist us if we need to troubleshoot our connections, but the temperature is dropping into a comfortable range. Have a flashlight handy in case you need to check something after dark.

What’s a movie without popcorn? Take advantage of your home’s spice rack to come up with a custom popcorn seasoning for your screening – or steal ours: smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper mixed into coconut oil and drizzled over your snack. 

There’s few things left to do now besides gather your family and start the film! Wait about a half hour after sunset for your darkest sky, and enjoy a fun experience in the beauty and convenience of your backyard. When the film’s over don’t forget to breakdown your equipment and store it securely. 

CC Sunscreens

Want extra comfort for your backyard? CC Sunscreens can help make your yard a beautiful and fun-filled place. Our heat-blocking patio screens are the perfect solution to get more from the outdoors.