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Outdoor Movie Theater Projector Guide

Yes, 'man-caves' are very cool, but being a recluse, hermit or hikikomori is probably not good for your long term health. It's time to take the projector party outside.


The one thing you need to know about using projectors outdoors is that it NEEDS TO BE DARK. Unfortunately, they have not yet made a projector that is brighter than the sun, so your best bet for enjoying outdoor projection is to wait until after the sun has set. Preferably, behind the screen. Take a look at the examples below - this may vary a bit depending on your location, but it should give you a decent idea of what to expect.

Now, with that out of the way, let's continue!

projection before sunset    projection after sunset    projection simulation   

Simulation of outdoor projection over time

You can make your outdoor movie theater as simple or high-tech as you like.

projection simulation    projection simulation

Screen Innovation's Solo Screen line makes setup easy and ensures awesome image quality

Unlike those super sensitive flat screen televisions, a projector can easily be moved outdoors for an evening of entertainment under the stars. Wow your neighbors and friends with larger-than-life films, sports and music — all from the comfort of your own backyard. You can also bring your projector with you on camping or tailgating trips and take things to the next level!

Keep reading to learn more about setting up your outdoor movie theater »

Buyer's Guide Table of Contents:


Look for the extra referee holding the beverage for a sense of size.

Looking for a projector? Click here or call (888) 248-0675

Best Projectors for Outdoor Movie Theaters

There are currently no projectors designed exclusively for outdoor use. However, most of our home theater projectors, and even some of our business models, can easily be set up outside.

To get those gigantic, vivid images projectors are known for, we highly recommend using an HD or 4K/UHD model in your outdoor theater setup. Most of our home theater projectors start at Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, which is usually more than adequate for backyard entertainment. If your budget is pretty tight, a business projector model with a resolution of 1280 x 800 or higher might work well for you. Just make sure to check for input compatibility.

NOTE: Non-HD projectors will also work outdoors, but the image quality won't be quite as spectacular as their higher resolution brothers and sisters.

For the video source, there are several options available — If you're close enough to your wireless router, a Roku stick, Amazon Fire TV stick or Apple TV are good streaming video solutions. If that's not an option, you can use a laptop with HDMI out, a portable Blu-ray player, or simply grab some really long cables and connect directly to your indoor home entertainment system.

outdoor movie

There are no projectors designed specifically for outdoor use, however, you can bring most home theater models outside. Just don't forget to bring them inside when you're done!

TIP: If you want to setup your projector in a remote location, pair your streaming device to a personal hotspot from your smartphone. Not recommended if you're on a limited mobile data plan, though.

Shop our outdoor theater section for our product recommendataions, or call 1-888-248-0675 to speak to a Projector Expert.

Quick Tip! No matter how often you use your outdoor theater, we do not recommend leaving your projector outside after use. Same goes for your screen.

Backyard Movie Theater Projector Specs:

Brightness : 2,000 lumens or better

Resolution : HD (720p, 1080p or higher)

Connectivity : HDMI

Projector Audio : Many HD projectors come with built-in speakers. If your projector doesn't, or if you need extra audio power, try Anchor powered speakers, which feature built-in amplifiers.

outdoor movie

Now this is what we call a pool party!

Backyard Movie Theater Recommendations:

Can I Have a Backyard Movie Theater Without a Screen?

You betcha! You can make your own screen using a sheet, the side of your house, the garage door, painter's tarp, you name it. Some of the best outdoor movie theaters we've seen were just a projector and a sheet hung between two trees.

That said, you may prefer a more polished look for your outdoor theater. Manufacturers have recently come out with a slew of affordable outdoor screens. From cinema-grade material you can attach to your garage to freestanding screens that set up in minutes, there is sure to be an outdoor screen that fits your needs and budget.

outdoor movie

You can make your own screen, or set up a professional model for a more polished look.

Recommended Screens for Outdoor Theater Use:

Elite came by our office recently and we asked them to show us how easy the Yard Masters are to set up. Watch this video for a closer look:

All-In-One Outdoor Movie Theater Projector Solutions

It's summertime - let us do the homework for you. We've created all-in-one backyard movie theater packages that include everything you need for a night of cinema under the stars. Save money and time!

Prefer to pick out your own projector and accessories? Projector People can create an all-in-one package that will please even the pickiest of backyard theater aficionados. Call 1-888-248-0675

outdoor movie

In addition to making your backyard the coolest on the block, projectors also add rich visual value to events like outdoor concerts.

Don't forget...

A power strip

Extension cord

Inexpensive upconverting DVD or Blu-ray player (if not included on your projector)

Entertaining movie

External speakers (like this handy outdoor bluetooth party speaker )

Food and beverages (beverages and food should be kept away from all electronics)

Tips for the Best Outdoor Theater

Invite your neighbors, or at least inform them that there will be life size images in your backyard and maybe some extra noise.

Do not charge admission without permission of the movie distributor. Though tempting, it is against the law. See your local regulations.

Backyard events will be best if started around dusk (just like at the drive-in).

Keep power cords out of the way as much as possible.

Beware of inclement weather.

Keep electronics away from pools, BBQs, your neighbor's dog and that annoying kid from the next block.

Turn off your sprinkler system before setting up.

Remember: your projector is not a coaster.

Consult your projector owner's manual for specifications on outdoor use.

outdoor movie

One of our customers recently had his outdoor theater featured in the LA Times. Read more »

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