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Nothing can replicate the experience of heading out to the movie theater. But, like with so many communal experiences, we’ve had to adapt since the start of the global pandemic, and there are plenty of ways to replicate a version of the theatrical experience in a safe, socially distant, or single household-only manner. The best option? Investing in a few key purchases to turn your backyard (or front yard, or patio, or any outdoor space) into a home theater.
You’ll need a projector and a screen to start — we’ll list a few below, though you can check out a full list of options in our piece about the best projectors for your budget — plus a few more accessories (lights, blankets, bluetooth speakers — here’s a bigger list of those, too) that will make your outdoor movie viewing as comfortable and cozy as possible. Read on for our selections.
If you’re starting from scratch, this package that includes an LED projector and 100″ portable screen that you can hang from a tree or on the side of your house. The HD projector comes with its own remote and is compatible with smartphones, laptops, tablets, Blu-ray and DVD players, USB flash drives, SD card, most media players, and streaming sticks. It can be attached to a camera tripod to get the perfect angle for your screen, and has an audio input to connect it to an external speaker for improved sound.
This affordable projector option comes with a native 1280x720p resolution with a high brightness and contrast ratio. It includes HDMI/USB/TF/AV/VGA interfaces for use with laptops, Blu-ray and DVD players, and other media (though not smartphones). It comes with projector, remote control, HDMI cable, AV cable, power cable, and user manual.
This premium, wrinkle-free 100″ projector screen takes just two minutes to set up and requires no screws or additional tools. The sturdy tripod support fits neatly in the included carry bag for quick transport, and the PVC matte material is easy to clean. Just remember to support the base in case of wind.
This lightweight polyester 120″ screen is foldable for easy storage, and can be fastened easily with hooks, ropes, brackets, nails, or even double sided tape. It’s basic, sure, but way better than tacking a sheet to the wall.
Okay, last screen option but we couldn’t resist — if you REALLY want to commit (and also have a pretty big yard), then you’ll want to try this 13′ x 8′ inflatable screen that accommodates both front and rear projection. It takes less than five minutes to set up with the included air pump, and can deflate in minutes to pack inside the included storage bag.
This portable soundbar is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, and its multiple wireless and wired connections means you can easily connect it to your projector via Bluetooth or audio cable. It’s lightweight, with a battery that lasts up to six hours at max volume. You’ll get the soundbar, remote, USB driver-free sound card, RCA cable, 3.5mm audio cable and user manual, plus an 18-month warranty and 24-hour customer support.
As the weather changes, you’ll want to make sure you stay warm outside. That’s where this wood-burning fire pit comes in handy. It’s lightweight and easily transportable, and is made from a durable steel frame with black heat-resistant coating. It also comes with a spark screen and fire poker for safety.
If you prefer a more low-tech heating option, cuddle up in this cozy microfiber fleece blanket. It’s machine-washable and dryer safe for easy cleaning.
To really set the scene, decorate your yard with these outdoor globe light. Each 25′ string comes with 25 clear G40 bulbs (or replace with your candelabra socket bulbs of choice), plus end-to-end connections so you can attach up to three together for larger areas. And if one bulb breaks or burns out, the rest will continue to work.
Next up? Seating. This rectangular bean bag is filled with small pieces of high-density polyurethane foam for plenty of support, and the removable cover is easy to take off and clean whenever you want.
A more ergonomic option is this portable camping chair, which has a fully cushioned seat and back, and also comes with side pockets, mesh cooler, and a four-can cooler to make sure your drink stays cold.
You can’t get the full outdoor movie theater experience without a little popcorn. Bring the concession stand home with this 4QT popcorn machine which comes with a measuring cup, spoon, and serving scoop. For a more compact option, try this outdoor popcorn popper that goes directly on your grill. Of course, you’ll need popcorn kernels as well (which you can get here), and bags to fill up with buttery popcorn. If you’re throwing a 21 and over movie night and want a ready-made option, try this alcohol infused gourmet popcorn.
Hungry for more than popcorn? This cast iron personal pizza maker lets you make a brick-oven-style pizza from home. Just add your toppings, place the pizza maker directly on the grill (or mini oven), and you’ll have a delicious homemade pizza in 10 minutes.