The Economy of Backyard Theaters

It’s that time again. Soon you’ll be savoring long, hot nights, and looking for ideas for bigger and better entertainment that doesn’t cost too much. So, how will you enjoy those summer nights? How about outside in your very own backyard theater? Sound like a dream? It’s not. And it’s probably cheaper than you think. Read on.

The Cost of Doing Movies

So let’s do a little math. If you were to take your (2) kids (or a date) to see all the big movies coming out this summer; how much would it cost you? Here’s a list of just a few of the 2008 Summer Movie releases and their tentative release dates (source):

Iron Man in theaters May 2nd
  • “Iron Man”    (May 2nd)
  • “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”    (May 16th)
  • “Indiana Jones 4”    (May 22nd)
  • “Kung Fu Panda”    (June 6th)
  • “The Incredible Hulk”    (June 13th)
  • “Get Smart”     (June 20th)
  • “Wall E”    (June 27th)
  • “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D”    (July 11th)
  • “The Dark Knight”    (July 18th)
  • “Star Wars : The Clone Wars”    (August 15th)

[ photo: Iron Man is scheduled for release May 2nd, 2008 ]

Now you might not see all of these movies in theaters this summer. In fact, the average family goes to see just about eight movies a year in movie theaters ( source Nielsen). But since you are reading our story, it’s likely that you like movies more than the average American. So, let’s pretend you actually do want to see all ten of the movies listed above. Below is an approximation at what you would spend:

Estimated Cost for Seeing Ten Summer Movies

  • Adult tickets: 2 @ $9 = $18
  • Kids tickets: 2 @ $7 = $14
  • Refreshments aprox = $20

  • —————————–
  • Total per movie = $52

  • $52 per movie x 10 movies = $520
  • ( Resale / Investment value = $0 )

(If you don’t have kids, then you can factor in the cost of the kids and refreshments as about what you’d pay for dinner and a movie if you were generous enough to pay for ten with a date or friend.)

Now you’ve spent $520 on movies, and what do you have to show for it? You’ll have the experience, which was hopefully positive, and if the movie was good enough, you’ll want to pick up the DVD when it comes out. Other than that, you’re pretty much out the $520 bucks. Now if you love movies, it’s probably worth it for the big screen experience, the quality time with family, and the movie popcorn.

But what if there was a way to watch movies on the big screen, experience quality time with the family, eat healthier popcorn, and enjoy the great outdoors all summer long with one simple investment?

Low Cost, Better Investment Big Screen Entertainment

A Backyard Theater does not require additional space inside the house, but rather takes advantage of space you have outdoors. Some use their garage door as a screen and set up their temporary outdoor theaters in the driveway. Other folks will take the time to rig up a semi-permanent backyard theater, complete with a projection screen and an outdoor sound system.

Cost of Budget Backyard Theater Component:

  • Low cost projector = $449 and up (example NEC NP100 is coming soon!)
  • Twin size bedsheet or tarp = $10
  • Portable speakers (computer or regular AV)= $35 – $60
  • DVD player = probably already own
  • Component video or HDMI cable (depending on source) = $35 – $99
  • Bug spray = $5 – $10

  • —————————–
  • Total = $534 – $628
  • Resale / Investment value = better than $0

[NEC’s new low-priced NP100 is coming soon and just might do the trick. It’s $499 with a $50 rebate for a limited time.]

But wait, there’s more!

So, while the cost of the projector will vary, you can find yourself in for as little as $550 or so. That’s just a few dollars more than your ten movie summer. Plus, once the summer is over, you can think about where to set up your projector indoors for the upcoming NFL football season, the holidays, and beyond. Our own anecdotal evidence shows that houses with home theaters will sell better in a tough economy than houses without a home theater.

How to Choose a Projector?

There are a number of important considerations for buying a projector. We have updated our Backyard Theater Buyers Guide from last year for your reference. We made this guide because considerations for backyard use only, might be different from the projector you might choose for a permanent installation in a dedicated home theater like these [ see photos of our customer’s dedicated home theaters. ].

Survey Says

A number of American’s (about 20%) report that they would prefer to watch movies at home (source). After you get your home theater, you might just be one of them!



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