Build a backyard theater that's better than the local cinema | Popular Science

Build a backyard theater that's better than the local cinema

Make your backyard theater as Regal as an AMC

Outdoor Movie Theater Setup

The ultimate and affordable backyard theater setup

Sadly, drive-in movies venues are dying a slow and painful death, but you can create an awesome outdoor cinema experience in your own backyard if you have the right gear. For the frequent movie-goer—or person that just loves watching films on the big screen—invest in a home theater system that can be used both indoors and out.

Optoma HD142X 1080p 3000 Lumens 3D DLP Home Theater Projector

Optoma HD142X Home Theater Projector



The Optoma HD142X projects a brightness of 3000 lumens. That makes it bright enough for use outside—even when its not terribly dark. The projection size ranges from 66-107 inches depending on how far away the projector is placed from the screen. The 1080p projector comes with two HDMI ports, a 3.5mm audio output, and a bulb that lasts up to 8,000 hours. It has a higher contrast ratio at 23,000:1, which means that the lightest white is 23,000 times brighter than the darkest black. The Optoma HD142X also comes with a ten-watt built in speaker. $545.

For a not so slight upgrade, take a look at this Epson Home Theater Projector that comes with built-in 4K Enhancement. The projector has a brightness of 2200 lumens. While this isn't as bright as the Optoma, so it's probably better for indoor use, but it has a much wider dynamic range and a contrast ratio of 140,000:1.

This 11-pound, steel projector or laptop stand has a 15.5 x 11.5 inch plate and an adjustable height between 33 and 53 inches. The tripod legs will keep the picture sturdy while you watch your films. $47.

You can use a plain, white sheet as a projection screen, but you can expect image quality to suffer tremendously. This Camp Chef projector screen is 120-inches, can be used both indoors and outdoors, and is made of a reflective Oxford nylon for sharper images. The frame is made out of a steel tube and comes with stabilizing ropes to secure the rig. The entire setup weighs 44 pounds. $160.

The Roku Stremaing Stick requires no wires and plugs directly into the HDMI port on your projector or TV. Roku lets you access streaming apps such as Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu and search across the different apps either by actor, title, and director. You can use the app on your phone, type using the Roku remote, or use the built-in voice search in the remote. Another neat feature is the private listening mode which lets you listen through headphones on your phone—to not disturb others around you—while you watch on your larger screen. Your neighbors may not appreciate your late night Texas Chainsaw Massacre marathons. $40.

Use the second HDMI port on your projector to upgrade your sound. The Yamaha YAS-207 sound bar has DTS Virtual:X built in. This virtually recreates surround-sound without the need for an entire surround sound setup. The speaker reproduces a virtual height and depth that wouldn't normally be possible with a single forward facing speaker. The YAS-207 also comes with a wireless subwoofer to enhance the bass and lets you connect Bluetooth enabled audio devices to streaming music. $300.

If you don't have tons of these laying around the house, pick up a sturdy HDMI cable to hook up an Apple TV, PS4, or Blu-Ray Player to your projector. These HDMI cords are six feet long and meet current audio and 4K video standards. $9 for two.

This G4Free outdoor folding chair holds up to 200 pounds and is made of a durable Oxford cloth with aluminum alloy legs. The chair folds up—keep a couple of them in a closet for next week's screening—and comes with a pouch to hold your personal items. $31.

Theater Sign

Theater Sign



Point your guests to the entertainment area. This handmade theater sign is customizable and made of a 3/4-inch thick knotty pine wood. It comes in seven sizes from 5.5 x 24-inches to 27.5 x 120-inches. For an extra accent, add a wooden frame around the edge of the sign. Starts at $46.

Artisan Candy Making Kit

Artisan Candy Making Kit

Williams Sonoma

The Artisan Candy Making Kit—only available on Williams Sonoma's website—comes with reusable tools and the ingredients to make candies like gummies, marshmallows, and licorice at home. Every kit comes with enough ingredients to make one batch of each candy. $50.

Natural Citizen Insect and Bug Repellent Spray

Natural Citizen Insect and Bug Repellent Spray



Since you're watching a movie outside... in the dark... in the heat, make sure those pesky insects find a seat and snack somewhere other than your neck. The Natural Citizen bug spray lasts up to four hours, is DEET free, and contains essentials oils such as lemon eucalyptus, cedar that repels bugs. $14.

Forget the movie theater butter popcorn and don't let the jalapeño flavor scare you away. Smartfood uses 100 percent whole grain popcorn and only uses real ingredients with no artificial flavors or preservatives. $3

These recyclable, shatterproof wine glasses are made of a BPA-free polymer. They have thumb indents to make them more comfortable to hold and look much fancier than the price tag. Worry about the movie and not whether or not the extra glass of wine your guzzling down will break. $13 for four.


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