Build A Backyard Movie Theater


This may be one of our most fun summer garden fun ideas yet! Build a backyard movie theater! Ok, it wasn’t our idea. But we’re running with it. Sound like an impossible DIY project? Not! We have tutorials for every skill level, and remember, even an old sheet and a projector still make a great movie night. But for those of you who want a little more in your outdoor movie viewing experience, try these ideas. Most of the tutorials require simple materials including pvc pipe, buckets and sheets. You could also consider investing in a higher quality screen for a more upscale experience. And don’t think this idea is just for the kids! We know lots of couples who host outdoor movie/wine tasting parties that don’t include the little ones. Ready to roll? Don’t miss all the great tips these bloggers post on their tutorial pages as well. Our featured project, above,  Pottery Barn has gotten in the “picture” with a simple version of a backyard movie screen. Simple and quick tutorial. Cozy!

This project is by Wholesome Mommy, and she has an incredible step by step on how to build an outdoor movie screen. Packed with easy instructions, step by step photos, and tons of tips, this is a good basic primer on how to do it right.



Digital Trends has tons of great info. If you are building an outdoor theater… then you should read this, as it covers everything from logistics to social etiquette.



AmberLee of Givers Log has some great tips as well, including projector placement and even food! Best of all, she has ideas for alternatives to homemade screens in her Backyard Movie: How-To!



Sunset magazine created their backyard movie theater with the same idea as the projects above with a frame, concrete in buckets (or pots) and a screen. They offer another alternative to a sheet, and also some good resources online for projectors.



Lots and lots of tips from Cracker Jack Theater including sound systems and storage ideas, but also a new idea for using your outdoor theater.



We found this great photo floating out in internet space, but it’s so inspirational we wanted to share it. This is the life, folks!



And lastly, a couple more inspirational photos to get you motivated!



Image Credits: Pottery Barn, Wholesome Mommy, Digital Trends, Sunset, Cracker Jack Theater, Pinterest, Sunset, Apartment Therapy

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  1. I love, love this idea to give to my clients. Outdoor kitchens and patio are all the rage right now and adding something fun like this for the summer is a great idea. I love that people can make these themselves whenever the mood strikes.

  2. Michelle santucci says:

    We did this for my son’s 8th birthday party. We attached a piece of wood to both ends of a king sized sheet and put one of the pieces in the the gutter. The other was at the bottom and kept the sheet taught and from blowing in the breeze.nwe had a fire in the fire pit and the kids slept in the tent after the movie! It was such a huge success that we are going to do it again !

  3. Any one have experience/recommendations with a good projector for outside?

    • I have an NEC VT-695 which I picked up on eBay for $60.00. I would recommend at least 2,500 lumens and you should be able to start your movies right around 8:00 PM – EST in the summer. Just be mindful of the hours left on the bulb if you pick up a used one and CHECK CHECK and TRIPLE-CHECK the pictures for the quality (i.e. dead pixels, spots on the projector, etc.). I got a lot of ideas from this guy who does his Cracker Jack outdoor theater at I also picked up a receiver and (2) speakers for the sound for around $40.00 as well through craigslist. The screen I ended up making using Blackout screen from JoAnn’s Fabrics and having a local sign shop place evenly spaced grommets on them (total cose for the fabric on sale and the grommets installation was less than $10.00. The frame I made using PVC pipe and alot of trial and error.

  4. Sounds fun and easy! I want to show home movies at my daughter’s graduation party!

  5. The home theather idea is great. But what I’d like to know is? how you made those cozy little futon theather chairs. Could you please tell me how those were made or where they where purchased. Thank you very much

    • Kathy Woodard says:

      The ones in the first pic are from Pottery Barn I believe…

      • Do you know what they are called? I have not seen them at pottery barn. Yes, the ones shown in the first picture. Thank you.

        • Kathy Woodard says:

          I’m sorry, I don’t! A quick look and it looks like they don’t carry them any more. They are cool, I hope you find some like it! Wish I could have helped more!

    • Google floor pillows world market has cool ones. I went with a papasan chair cushion from old time pottery to keep costs down when I put a reading nook together for my daughters room.

  6. HiHi. My husband and I want to make an outdoor movie theater. Now that are girls are grown its mommy and daddy time.I have looked everywhere for the brown loungers that are in that picture.Please ,please can you let me know where you bought them. Maybe the frame is made DIY and just the coushions were bought. Thank you for your time I’m looking forward to hear from you.

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