How to create your own outdoor cinema

Cassie Pryce

Extend your evening entertainment outdoors by setting up an al fresco movie theatre in the comfort of your own garden

Embrace the warmer summer evenings by taking the inside out and viewing your favourite flicks under the stars. With a few pieces of kit, your cinema can be up and running in next to no time, giving your garden a hi-tech update that can be enjoyed by the whole family. 

 

Tech tips

Cuprinol Garden Shades in Wild Thyme, Fresh Rosemary and Dusky Gem, Lavender, £29.76 for 2.5L, all Cuprinol 

Investing in a projector doesn’t have to break the bank if you’re looking for something suitable for casual use with good quality picture and sound functions. Most modern designs can be connected to a laptop, USB stick, games console, TV stick, mobile phone or tablet, which means you can watch or play from a multitude of devices to suit your set up. When choosing a projector, check that it has the capability for the image to reach the location of your screen (the recommended distance for mid-range projectors is around 1.8m) and ensure you have a suitable base to sit the projector on; it needs to be the correct height, sturdy and on a flat, level surface. The built-in speakers on most mid-range models are suitable for a laid-back movie set-up if you have a fairly quiet garden, but you might want to hook up external ones for more of a surround-sound cinematic experience. 

 

Screen time

If you don’t want to invest in a dedicated retractable projector screen, there are other ways you can create a suitable backdrop for your outdoor cinema. A simple white sheet or segment of black-out lining material can be hung to act as the screen; just make sure it’s pulled taut and is held down securely in all four corners to ensure a clear picture. If you choose this option, remember to set up the viewing area in a sheltered spot of the garden, to stop gusts of wind disrupting your cinema experience. Positioning the sheet against a stable backdrop, such as a fence or wall, is the best option. Alternatively, you can project the film directly onto a wall or flat outdoor surface, as long as it is light in colour. A rendered external wall will work best, as long as the surface is smooth (avoid projecting onto brick or pebbledash as the picture projection will lose its clarity). 

 

Cosy up

Maze rattan Riviera garden sofa, £499, Cuckooland.com

Now you’ve got the technical equipment sorted, it’s time to turn your attention to making your outdoor space a movie-night haven. Add plenty of blankets and cushions to your outdoor seating to make it as comfortable as possible. For larger groups, add extra seating in the form of beanbags and deckchairs, as well as oversized floor cushions to sink into. Laying down blankets or an outdoor rug will also help to cosy up the space and really make it feel like you’ve brought the inside outdoors. 

 

Finishing touches

Mix 850 bioethanol fire pit, £1,495, Lime Lace 

To complete the perfect film night scene, use a firepit to toast marshmallows and give off a warm glow while you enjoy the big-screen experience; just remember to make sure that heat sources are positioned well away from any soft furnishings. Lanterns and outdoor candles will also help create a cosy atmosphere, or drape a string of festoon lights above your theatre set-up for twinkling overhead lighting. With your bespoke cinema space now complete, don’t forget to stock up on movie night essentials—whether that be bags of popcorn, warming hot chocolates, or celebratory cocktails. Now it’s time to sit back, relax and hit play…  

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