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How to Transform Your Backyard into a State-of-the-Art Summer Movie Theater

Everything you need to be the coolest dad this summer.

In an era in which Netflix reigns supreme, it was simply bound to happen. Right now, one of the hottest trends among a certain subset of suburbanites is the whole makeshift backyard movie theater. You know: movie projectors, bed-sheets-draped-over-the-side-of-your-SUV, coolers of refreshments, meat on the grill, and lawn chairs in place of your local movieplex's stadium seating.

As fans of cold ones, great movies, and summer, we fully support this trend. But there are wrong ways to do the backyard movie theater (see: aforementioned bedsheets) and right ways to do the backyard movie theater (everything we've laid out below). And for more ways to beef up your home entertainment system, here's how to buy top-of-the-line stereo equipment. 

The Projector

Acer H5380BD 720p Home Theater Projector

Some families can just take their giant flat screens from the house and set it up outside with a long extension chord, but what's the fun in that? The picture and the lighting won't be nearly as strong as it should be. If you're really trying to get that movie theater experience, your best bet is to get a nice projector. Projectors can be very pricey, but you can still find quality projectors from the $300 to $600 range. Here are a couple of reasonably priced options:

Acer H5380BD 720p Home Theater Projector: $519.99 at

1080p projectors will give you the highest HD quality you can find, but the pricing on those can get up $1,000, so I suggest looking for a 720p one, like this glorious machine from Acer. At 720p resolution, the drop off in quality is very minimal and you're still going to get the type of HD movie imagery you were looking for. This model also offers a perfect fit for widescreen movies and 3,000 lumens so you can increase the power of the projector and be able to start your movie at the sunset before it gets dark. It also has two connectors equipped for PC source input like a D-Sub or HDMI.

ViewSonic PJD5155 3300 Lumens SVGA HDMI Projector: $300 at

If you're looking for a cheaper option, the ViewSonic HDMI Projector is a solid choice. The HD quality might not be as high, but with 3300 lumens you're going to really light up the yard like a movie theater once the sun goes down. It's also an HDMI projector that's compatible with Macs, Windows, Apple TVs, and Blu-Ray players so you can connect and watch any kind of movie or TV you want. Once you've got your home projector set up you'll be ready to watch some of these great movie fight scenes.

The Screen


Outdoor Big Screen 144

Yes, you can make your own screen using a bed sheet, or setting up the projector on the garage door or the side of the house, but the quality won't be as strong. If you're looking for a more polished look you should get a professional model. Like the projectors, any legitimate screen is going to cost a decent amount, but you can find some fairly priced ones that will get the job done.

Outdoor Big Screen 144: $324.99 at

This outdoor big screen measures 144 inches (12 ft) diagonally, corner to corner, so it's plenty big for your viewing pleasures without going over the top. It's also made of reflective material that's perfect for high-resolution imagery and enhanced colors. Setup and takedown is very easy and it has a strong enough frame that can withstand a light wind, but includes four tie down lines if you need the extra muscle for stability.

Visual Apex Projector Screen 132HD Portable Indoor/Outdoor Movie Theater: $225.99 at

Any screen from around 120" or higher is ideal for an outdoor movie setup, though not all of them come in HD. This Visual Apex 132HD Projector screen is a foot shorter than the previous one, but it's a portable screen with detachable legs for that extra flexibility. It also has a 160 degree viewing angle with a black back front projections screen and it can produce 3D picture. It's made of material that is UV protected and mildew resistant, but you can simply wash it off with a hose if you need to.

Everything Else

Two-person Loveseat

Obviously lawn chairs or beach chairs will get the job done if you're entertaining the family or a large group of people, but if you're looking for more comfort for you and your party, here are some options, as well as a few party must-haves:

Corfu Brown All-Weather Patio Armchair with Tan Cushions: $65.15 at

On movie night, the comfortable cushion is perfect for relaxing kicking back. But best of all: it's weatherproof.

Hampton Bay Spring Haven Brown All-Weather Wicker Patio Lounge Chair with Sky Blue Cushions: $199 at and $299 "Loveseat" for two

Hard to go wrong with wicker furniture, a tried-and-true staple of backyard decorating. This model also comes with a gorgeously rich blue cushion, and can be bought as either a single chair or, if you're planning on spending your summer watching movies with someone special, a two person loveseat.

Great Northern Popcorn 6100 8-ounce Popcorn Popper Machine: $164.97 at Great Northern Popcorn 6100 8 ounce Foundation Red Antique Style Popcorn Popper Machine

Snack on popcorn that's way better than anything you would get at the movie theater. This deluxe model comes with a quiet motor so it won't distract you from your movie, and it also boasts a three position control switch.

Keter Pacific Cool Bar Rattan Party Cooler: $69.99 at

This handy device was made specifically for outdoor parties. The top portion serves as a table to rest your drinks on, while the bottom is a cooler, ensuring you'll never have to run to your kitchen for a cold brew. It's a great way to maximize your space and allow to relax with several adult beverages as you enjoy your movie.

And speaking of home bars, make sure yours is as good as possible with these great items.

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