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How to Make an Outdoor Movie Screen

Updated on June 1, 2012

Outdoor movie screens for backyard movies

While thumbing through the pages of one of the many Pottery Barn catalogs that makes its way into my mailbox periodically, I came across something that caught my eye and imagination - an image of an outdoor movie screen made out bed sheets, complete with directions on how to make one of your own. What a great idea for backyard entertainment!

Makeshift backyard movie screen

This backyard movie screen made out of a sheet produced a great result.
This backyard movie screen made out of a sheet produced a great result. | Source

How to make an outdoor movie screen with sheets

The directions to create Pottery Barn's version of an outdoor movie screen are quite simple:

  • Sew two queen-sized sheets together on the long sides so it makes a tube
  • Insert a pole through the top
  • Tie one end of sturdy rope to the top pole and the other end to a tree or structure
  • Put a heavier pole in the bottom to act as a weight
  • Tie rope to the lower pole on one end and then to tent stakes inserted in the ground on the other end

If you already own a projector, making this simple and inexpensive movie screen for the backyard could be a lot of fun.


Make an outdoor movie screen with PVC pipes and blackout cloth

For anyone with a backyard lacking trees for the sheet version of the outdoor movie theater, or for those people who want to make a screen that is perhaps a little more sturdy, consider using PVC pipes as the structure to which the screen is attached.

Backyard movie theaters are fun for:

Birthday parties

Pool parties

Family gatherings

Backyard Barbecues

Neighborhood block parties

Your own outdoor film festival

Items needed to build outdoor movie screen with PVC structure

Be sure to watch the short video above for the exact size and quantity of each item needed, as well as simple step-by-step directions.

This version of an outdoor movie screen is a little more elaborate than simply tying a sheet to a couple of trees. Building the structure that the sheet or blackout cloth is attached to is as simple as putting together Tinker Toys, so don't be intimidated. The end result is well worth the trip to the hardware store!

Tools to build outdoor movie screen:

  • Drill
  • Grommet punch
  • Sewing machine

Supplies to make outdoor movie theater:

  • PVC pipes
  • PVC cement
  • Eyebolts with nuts and washers
  • Grommets
  • Nylon rope
  • Blackout cloth
  • Zip ties
  • Buckets
  • Cement
  • Anchor stakes

Outdoor film festival using inflatable movie screen


Purchase an outdoor movie screen

If you like the idea of watching movies in your own backyard, campground, or RV park, but prefer to not make a screen of your own, you may want to consider purchasing a portable outdoor movie screen.

There are basically two types of outdoor movie screens for sale:

  1. Inflatable movie screens
  2. Portable movie screens designed for camping

The inflatable screens cost more than the portable camping screens and are usually larger. In fact, inflatable screens are often used by cities to show their own outdoor movie festivals.

Watch movies for less

If you're looking for ways to save money watching DVDs or movies, be sure to read:

Money Saving Tips for Movie Tickets and Movie Rentals

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    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      Judi O. - I love the idea of a homeowners association, or at least a few neighbors, putting up an outdoor movie screen for the neighborhood kids to enjoy. Thanks for your comment.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks SmartAndFun. I love the idea of an outdoor movie theater in my own backyard - glad you think it is a great idea too.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      Cardelean - What a fantastic idea. I'm sure all the neighborhood kids would enjoy watching movies on an outdoor movie screen in your common area. It certainly would make for great childhood memories!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

      ishwaryaa22 - What a fun idea for an apartment complex to show movies outdoors, as well as sporting events. Thank you for your comment, votes and sharing!

    • profile image

      Judi O 5 years ago

      What a GREAT idea. Thanks so much for sharing. The video was very helpful. I remember as a kid there was a family that showed movies on a big screen in the lot next to them for all the neighborhood kids. Parents knew where we were on Friday or Saturday nights. I think this project would be great for a subdivision homeowner association to give kids someplace to go and watch movies! Thanks again.

    • SmartAndFun profile image

      SmartAndFun 5 years ago from Texas

      What a great idea for a hub, and a great idea in general! Voted up and awesome!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      What a GREAT idea. We have a large "common" area behind our house and this would be great for those summer nights when the kids are looking for something different to do. Thanks for sharing this idea!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      A well guided hub especially with a suitable and helpful video that syncs well with this engaging hub! My apartment association use outdoor movie screen for filming hit films on festival days and cricket sport on cricket important match days. This is organized for the residents of my apartment in my apartment's garden courtyard. This is a cool idea and an economical alternative to purchasing more costly portable movie screen. Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared.