Monday, July 28, 2014

Outdoor Movie Screen {in your Own Backyard!}

Do you remember going to the drive-in movie theaters as a kid? I remember watching the original Freaky Friday and King Kong as a kid. They were always fun. Piling into the station wagon in your pj's. Bringing a cooler of drinks and snacks along and heading to the drive-in before it was too dark out.

Sadly, Minnesota is down to just 6 drove-in's in the whole state. In it's hay day, we had almost 90. So what is a family to do to get this same feel? How about creating your own outdoor movie experience.

We have done outdoor movies before, showing the movie on the side of the house. It worked, but with the siding, it is not the most ideal picture. You can always tie up a huge white sheet, but we have never gone that way either. You can also spend hundreds on a cool blow up screen that packs away when not in use, but who seriously has money for that? Why not build your own.

I was fortunate enough to grab a pull down screen from a classroom at work that they were throwing away. It is a simple pull down screen, no bells or whistles. Most schools are now going to "Smart Boards" and are getting rid if their pull down screens, ask around, your neighborhood schools may have one for free too. Or, check your local colleges and Universities to see if they have a store that sells off their old equipment. They may have some screens too!

So we started off measuring the screen, 8 feet long and 4 1/2 inches across the base. I wanted a screen that can stay outside all year long to use at a minutes notice. Hubby and I came up with the idea of attaching house gutters upside down over the screen to protect it from snow and rain. We went to the home improvement store with measurements in hand to see if a gutter would fit. We found a 10 foot section and it was 5 inches across the base. That will totally work!

So $4.99 for the gutter, $1.31 X 2 for end caps, screen = free, screws - already have. Total project = $7.61 plus tax.

The kids and I sat in chairs in the yard from all the different vantage points that you would ever be watching the screen. We chose a spot lower than I wanted, but it also makes it easier to pull down and put away at the end of the night. Hubby started out by attaching the screen to the house with two screws that fit into the screen. As you can see in the picture, it is useable at this point, but not protected from the elements. If you are willing to put up and take down the screen (and store it) between movie showings, this is really the only step you need.

To make it safe to the elements, you will need to add a gutter. Hubby measured out the screw spacings of the screen on the gutter, and used a tin snips to cut out around the brackets. This makes it easy to just slip the gutter over the screen. I used E-6000 to glue the end caps into place, because we do not own (or need) a pop rivet gun. Once he slipped the gutter over the screen, he did add two more screws on each end to make sure it wasn't going anywhere.

And that's it! Seriously that is all there is to putting up an outdoor movie screen.

I did move the bird feeders, and am planning on replacing the pull string with a wood pole with a hook on it so that the string won't bang against the house in the wind. We are also planning a deck remodel (hopefully next summer) so the kids will have comfortable chairs rather than laying in the grass. When we build the deck, I am planning on a tower the perfect distance and height to set the LCD projector and DVD player on for future movies. Hubby is now also planning on outdoor speakers throughout the deck for surround sound with the movies.

Speaking of the LCD projectors. I am also fortunate enough to be able to borrow one from work for the night and bring it back. This might be the expensive part of this project if you don't have a projector. Look around, check Craigslist, you will find one eventually. Hubby does all the hook ups from the projector to the DVD player to the portable speaker we use. I don't understand that stuff, but I am sure there is a simple guide someplace  for the equipment that you have and how to hook it all up.  Suggestion, make sure you test your equipment earlier in the day so you aren't fiddling around with it at night when the mosquitoes are biting and the kids are getting restless to watch their movie.

Hope you are having a great summer, now go look for a screen!

I am sharing this post with all of these lovely bloggers.


  1. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. What a great idea using an old screen from a school! Must. Call. Teachers. =) Pin'd Marcy @ day2day SuperMom

  3. What a cool idea! We would love this. It would definitely kick movie night up a notch! Thanks for linking up at Whatever Goes Wednesday. We'll be featuring this at Someday Crafts tomorrow.

  4. that is awesome! we have screen like this in our basement that is totally my boyfriend's creation-it is automatic and real theatre-ish. doesn't it just make the movie night that much more special? enjoy!

  5. How cool! Totally love it! I will have to start looking for a projector for sure. I have the perfect place to hang a screen.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. This is so awesome!!! !What a great idea! I' going to feature it tomorrow on Motivate me Monday

  7. Love the upside down rain gutter. I have an electric projection screen that I got for a screaming deal, but I want it outside under my pergola. I will take it down in the winter, but I was concerned with rain storms in the spring, summer, and fall. I have thought of a lot of ideas of how to keep rain off it, and this is by far the best solution. Thank you for sharing a simple and efficient solution!