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Everything you need to make your own outdoor movie theatre

It's definitely easier and probably more affordable than you imagined to make a screening room under the stars.

It's definitely easier and probably more affordable than you imagined to make a screening room under the stars

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

This article was originally published May 25, 2018 and was updated July 2, 2020.

Canadian summer is a fleeting season. Before you know it, you'll be spending eight months under a blanket with the heat cranked up, so, while you can, do as many things outside as possible. One great way to do this is taking your summer blockbuster-bingeing outdoors and you can DIY your own scenic cinema. Here's what you need to create one a movie theatre in your own backyard.

Projector

Remember those gigantic, 3-light projectors? We've come a long way since then. Home movie projectors range greatly in price from about $100 to over $1,000. Wirecutter's "best cheap projectors" are in the $600-900 range. But Amazon sells wireless projectors for under $200 with multiple connection options, including directly to your smartphone. Users seem to like the resolution of the VANKYO Cinemango 100 Mini Projector. Performance will also depend on the quality and distance from your screen. 

VANKYO Cinemango 100 Mini Projector, $188.99, Amazon

Projector screen

Your projector is just part of the equation, of course. While you certainly make it ultra-rustic with a white sheet or a blank wall, this screen can keep your movies looking sharp. This 16:9 formatted screen displays a 100 inch-wide projection and comes with sticky hooks to help you install. It's also made of anti-crease fabric, so go ahead and fold it up into a small bag for easy storage.

Projector Screen, $35, Amazon

Bluetooth speaker

While it would be nice to run some concert-quality speakers out there, space and wiring in the backyard is usually limited (not to mention the potential for complaints from neighbours), so something a little more concentrated is best. Weighing just under one pound, this bluetooth speaker is splashproof and has a strong enough battery to allow up to 15 hours of play time. With full-spectrum audio for clear listening at any volume, the speaker also has a range up to 30 feet, so it can easily accommodate a backyard setup.

Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker, $35.99, Amazon

Inflatable lounger

Watching a 3-hour movie in a lawn chair would be a little uncomfortable and, short of dragging your recliner across the deck, this is the next best thing. This inflatable lounger can be used in a variety of ways, including for a single person to lie in or for multiple people to sit on, like a sofa. The durable nylon fabric is intended for any kind of outdoor terrain. And it has side pockets for your drinks and snacks. Best of all, it inflates instantly by holding it in the wind, so setup is a matter of seconds.

Cozyful Inflatable Air Lounger, $44.95, Amazon

Outdoor popcorn popper

A movie without snacks is no movie at all and this outdoor popcorn maker is a classic addition. A non-stick kettle with a wooden handle that keeps cool, it can be used over your bonfire, campfire or backyard grill. 

Coghlan's Corn Popper, $24.99, Cabela's

Utility wagon

If you're having company over for an all-night binge, you'll also need something to hold and transport your snacks and drinks. This wagon folds and sets up in seconds, is able to hold up to 150 pounds and is made with an easy to clean fabric. It contains four cup holders and has a pop-up rear folding table, so you can snack for hours without taking your eyes off the screen.

Collapsible Outdoor Utility Wagon, $285, Amazon

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