Five Tips for Your First Outdoor Theater Party

The single, hands-down, most awesome quality of projectors is that they are essentially movie theaters with a handle.

Think about it: home theater projectors provide images up to 300-inches diagonal yet typically weigh less than 25 pounds. You can tuck them under your arm and go anywhere.

Try doing that with a flat screen!

Perhaps that’s why we’re such goofballs when it comes to outdoor theater season. Setting up a movie theater in our backyards epitomizes everything we love about projectors: their portability and image quality and size.

Reason #24,521 why we love projectors. They are essentially movie theaters with a handle. Try setting your flat screen up outside!

Okay. You didn’t come here to read a love letter to projectors. You want tips on setting up your first outdoor theater.

Here are the five points we always cover with outdoor theater first-timers.

Outdoor Theater Tips:

#1: Get a Bright Projector

Projectors are getting brighter and cheaper. When Projector People launched in 1999, the first projector we sold was a 650-lumen Epson for $5,999.

Now you can get more than 10 times that brightness for less than a third of the price.

We recommend you buy a projector that has at least 2,000 lumens. You can snag a decent home theater model for less than $400, or spend a little more and get something really high-end. Use our projector finder or just give us a call at 1-888-248-0675 to find out what’s bright and priced right.

#2: Invest in an Outdoor Screen

Elite’s Yard Master screen is an affordable upgrade to the white sheet most first-timers use in their outdoor theater.

Sure, you could hang a sheet between two trees and use that as your outdoor screen. For many years we recommended this technique to first-time outdoor theater buyers.

But just recently Elite Screens released several outdoor screens that are ridiculously affordable and easy to use.

Elite’s DIY Portable Outdoor Screen is basically a panel of cinema-quality material rigged with grommets that allow you to strap it to your garage, trees, pole supports, etc.

What makes this screen way better than a typical white sheet is its 1.1 gain matte surface. The material is textured to avoid hot-spotting and provide better colors and a wider viewing angle. Bonus: these bad boys start at $89.

Tip: Give us a call to get the best price on a projector and screen combo.

#3: Don’t Forget the Audio!

You got your bright projector. Your Elite screen. You’re ready to go, right?


You’ll need some sort of audio to ensure your audience can hear what’s going on on the screen. You could grab your computer speakers and bring those outside or you could invest in quality outdoor speakers.

The simplest option is look for a projector that includes built-in audio. The Epson Presenter features speakers and a built-in DVD player. The Epson MegaPlex MG50 has speakers and an iPhone/iPad dock.

The more features on the projector, the less accessories you have to buy.

#4: Don’t Charge Admission!

We know. It’s so tempting. You have this awesome outdoor space. How cool would it be to make a few bucks off it?

Resist the temptation. Charging money to show a Hollywood movie without the proper licensing can land you in big trouble. You could get smacked with a large fine and even sent to jail.

Ask people to bring beer instead.

#5: Don’t Keep Your Questions to Yourself!

To learn more, read over our outdoor theater buyer’s guide and then give us a call. The person you’ll speak to is probably planning his or her outdoor theater right now…..

Your turn!

What advice would you give to someone who was setting up an outdoor theater for the first time?