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Showtime! Build a Backyard Movie Theater for Under $100

Jul 21 2020

Remember going to the movies? 

That activity before COVID-19 that involved paying way too much money for tickets, buying popcorn loaded with butter, trying not to sit too close to the screen (but also not too far), and the satisfaction of successfully sneaking in a candy bar you got at the dollar store … all to watch the latest features that sometimes fell short of what “critics” claimed.   

Oh, the memories.  

Luckily, there are still drive-ins in some places — but that requires going somewhere, and most of us have forgotten how to drive.  

So, (assumes movie trailer voice) in a world where movie theaters seem like something out of a historical sci-fi novel, where can you go to watch your favorite flicks? Our answer: Your backyard. 

We put together a list of everything you need to set up your yard for a movie night for less than $100 .

Once you throw down a blanket, get some chairs, or heck, move a couch back there (it’s allowed, furniture has no rules anymore), on a warm, dry evening, the toughest part will be picking a genre.  

Don’t have a yard? Pick a blank white wall in your house, or hang up a sheet with thumbtacks! 

Don’t like movies? Who are you, Cameron from “Ferris Buller’s Day Off?” Just kidding, he doesn’t like anything. Different strokes for different folks! If video games are more your thing, play those instead. Mario Kart, anyone? 

Thinking your cinematic creation may look more like something off “Nailed It” than HGTV? Don’t be so hard on yourself! And check out our Outdoor Movie Night Pinterest board for budget-friendly inspo 

Popcorn 900

Projector – $79.99 (Amazon) 

OK, this is obviously the most expensive thing on our list. It’s also one of the only things on our list, as movie night isn’t a terribly complicated endeavor once you have a way to actually watch the movie. But consider this an investment, for all the good times you’ll have using it. 

Plus, this one comes with a native resolution of 800 * 480P, 4:3/16:9 adjustable projection screens, a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and a brightness of 4,000 Lumen. Don’t know what that means? It’s OK because it sounds way more fun than just watching something on a TV or computer screen.  

Queen-sized flat sheet – $11.47 (Walmart) 

You may already have one of these, but just in case. You can also check out a local thrift store (those are open again, right?) for a used one on the cheap – just make sure you wash it when you first bring it home, of course. 

There are numerous ways to hang up a sheet to use as a screen. For example, one of our writers uses binder clips to attach a sheet under the vinyl siding of her house. (Strange … or genius?) You can also just use a clothesline. Whatever works! 

Box of popcorn – Roughly $4 (Grocery store) 

Because it’s not really movie night if there is no popcorn. 

(That’s not true — nachos and candy are totally acceptable, too.)

And there you have it! Our budget-friendly guide to hosting a drive-in out back. So – what are you going to watch? A drama, perhaps? Or a rom-com? Maybe something spooky? 👻

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