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How To Build an Outdoor Theater for Socially Distanced Movie Nights

Posted by: | Posted on: September 26, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has slogged on, we’ve been forced to think about ways to bring our cherished regular activities into our homes. Some of us have created the ultimate craft cocktail bar (and dare we say our Manhattan is as good as any we’d order on a night out). We’ve turned our living spaces into home offices and virtual classrooms. We’ve added makeshift home gyms (which we may or may not use, ahem).

Now, we’re rolling out the red carpet for the latest trend we’re bringing home: the backyard movie theater. If you miss heading to the movies to catch the latest blockbuster, then building an outdoor cinema of your own could be just the answer.

We spoke with designers and events producers from across the country to bring you this decisive guide to creating the ultimate outdoor movie theater at home. Here’s how to go from Netflix on your laptop to big-screen movie marathons with friends—right in your own backyard.

Consider the neighbors before building an outdoor movie theater

Photo by Kurt Wilms 

Before you start planning out all your future movie nights, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re even allowed to have a theater in your outdoor space.

“It’s important to check that your HOA or PUD allows an outdoor theater,” says Mike Quayle of Alaska Structures and Weatherport. “You may need to get the board to vote on your project or even speak with the city to determine if there are any penalties.”

Once you have the go-ahead from the right people, take it one step further and map out a theater that won’t become a nuisance to the neighbors.

“Consider which direction your neighbors are in, and position the screen and audio speakers away from them if possible,” says events producer Venetia Harpin.

Just keep in mind that even with the best positioning, sound will carry.

“Be courteous with the volume levels before you decide to embark on a midnight screening of ‘Die Hard,’” she says.

Plan for size, location, sound, and other logistics

Photo by Aqua-Link Pools and Spas 

With the neighbors on board for your big-screen adventures, it’s time to start planning the size and dimensions of your outdoor theater.

“Ensure that your desired dimensions will work and look attractive in the space available,” says Quayle.

Although shopping for the biggest, baddest screens on the market might seem like a great idea, you’ll want to be sure the one you pick actually looks good—and isn’t just a giant eyesore.

Another thing to keep in mind when designing your theater is how you’ll power it.

“Keep in mind your power outlet locations, and how you’re going to install and store the projector, screen, and sound systems,” says Quayle.

Depending on where you live and what time of day or year you plan on hosting movie marathons, you may also want to consider installing a cover for your outdoor theater.

“You’ll want to create a space that shades not only the sun but also the rain,” he says.

A fabric stage cover like this one from Weatherport can be made longer, taller, or even shorter based on your needs.

And you’ll want to have a plan for keeping all of your equipment (and cords) protected from the elements.

“Ensure all cabling and AV tech is properly weatherproofed,” says Harpin. “Only use equipment that is designed for outdoor use, and ensure it’s all encased to avoid rusting, chewing rodents, and electrical shorts.”

How to shop for a cinema-worthy setup

Photo by Bobby Berk 

You’ve planned out your theater, now comes the fun part: shopping for your projector, screen, speakers, and seating.

“First and foremost, you’ll need a powerful, bright projector capable of rendering large images with clarity,” says Asher Weinstein of ProjectorScreen.com. “You’ll also need a projector screen or projectable surface, and some powerful speakers.”

When it comes to shopping for your projector and screens, there’s an option for every budget. On the more affordable end, this HD projector from GooDee offers a great picture for less than $200.

Keep your screen and speakers under budget as well by stringing up a plain white bedsheet and shopping this Fugoo Sport Bluetooth speaker ($89 from Amazon). If you’re looking to spend a bit more on your theater setup, this wireless projector by LG ($649 from Best Buy) runs for over two hours without needing a charge.

Finish up your space by transforming a blank wall with this projection screen paint ($299) or putting up one of these foldable Yard Master Pro screens by Elite ($499 from ProjectorScreen.com).

Don’t forget about the sound system: Immerse guests in their movie night with these Polk Audio outdoor speakers ($151 from Amazon).

Be sure to throw in some comfy seating for your movie-going guests. While you can always make it fancy with a few sectional-style outdoor sofas, you can also keep things simple by mixing and matching these outdoor poufs and beanbag chairs.

Keep your backyard movie theater COVID-19-safe

“To help make your new outdoor cinema a COVID[19]-compliant experience, stagger arrival times and clearly communicate your mask policy beforehand,” suggests Harpin.

Put out some hand sanitizer, and arrange seating to keep guests socially distanced. Skip the snack bar, and opt instead for a BYOB-style event.

Encourage people to keep their distance and silence their phones. Then kick back, relax, and get ready to enjoy your movie night under the stars.

The post Your Ticket to Weekend Fun: How To Build an Outdoor Theater for Socially Distanced Movie Nights appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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