Classic Movie + Great Outdoors = Memorable Night

14 ft Backyard MovieFor the budget-minded, it is already well known that renting a movie and watching it at home is a far less expensive option than going to see it in the theatre. Admittedly, the experience of viewing a movie in a theatre can be more fun, but what if you were to create your own theatre- in the great outdoors? Hosting an outdoor movie night is a great summer-only activity that can be budget-friendly and can really leverage the carefree vibe that the summer brings.


Gather Equipment

Is this event to be like a Hollywood premiere, or are you just gathering your family members to take in this outdoor cinematic experience? Either way, it is truly magical (and memorable) to ease back in your lawn chair or snuggle under a blanket and watch movies under the stars.

If you are thinking small scale, you can even move a portable device outside for your viewing pleasure. If this is an event of more epic proportions (and you will need a “big “movie to match), you will need access to a projector and speakers. Projectors can cover a wide range of expense, even just to rent, so make sure you look around. You can use a simple white sheet hung against a wall as a screen.


Admittedly, one of the most important parts of the movie viewing experience are the sights, sounds and smells of the concession stand.  However, I don’t know about you, but every time I order snacks at the movies, I walk away from the counter thinking that either my hands have gotten smaller, or the bucket of popcorn/jug of pop has grown enormously over the years- with the price tag to match. One of the benefits of doing this in your own space is that you can tailor the snacks to your budget and to your taste.

For an authentic movie theatre experience, go to a dollar or discount store and get cinema-style popcorn bags.

Charge Admission

If you are running this as a group or neighbourhood event, consider charging a small fee to help diminish your costs associated with paying for any equipment for the movie night.  Alternatively, you could use the event as a fundraiser (pay as you can for a local charity, or collect canned goods for the local food bank).

Extras for Comfort

Don’t forget lawn chairs, pillows and blankets. Even an inflatable air mattress provides a comfy viewing spot.

Don’t let insects distract from the onscreen drama. Make sure to have bug repellent handy, especially at dusk when those critters really come out to feast!

While you are trying to recreate the darkness of a movie theatre, a few nice touches of light are nice and create an atmosphere as well. Think tiny handheld flashlights or flameless LED candles dispersed around the viewing area.

Summer Classics

While everyone has their favourite flick, be sure to pick one that appeals to many. An event like this is about celebrating tried-and-true favourites that encourage engagement and good times. Some good ones are:

National Lampoon’s Vacation: Everyone has played a part in a Griswold Family Vacation at some point in their own lives.

Jaws: Decades later, this soundtrack still strikes terror

Star Wars (or any of the series): Classic and iconic, with fans spanning multiple generations

The Wizard of Oz: Colour, song and a classic message that supports this type of event “There’s no place like home.”