Outdoor Movie Theater

When we moved into a new house without a neighborhood, I decided to build an outdoor movie theater (also known as a Backyard Movie Theater) so that my sons could invite their friends and family over for movies nights over the summer. Over time, I’ve built up ways to make putting it up and taking it down easier, along with upgrading equipment.

Existing Setup


Screen Size: 9′ x 21′
Screen Material: Blackout Cloth
Stand Construction: 1″ EMT Poles with brass corners

The best place to get the a kit for building the screen and stand for a large screen is from Carl’s Place. What’s nice is that it comes with the screen itself, fittings for 1″ EMT poles, and bungees to attach the screen to the stand.

Keep in mind, you still need to buy the 21 x 1″ EMT poles from your local hardware store and those to add up to the price. As of when this was written, those are $9 .


Projector: Optoma HD27HDR
Projector Type: DLP
Projector Resolution: 1080p
Projector Lumens: 3,400

Media Player: Google Chromecast

I would recommend going with the cheapest 1080p projector with the highest lumens possible. I watch slickdeals.net for the best deals. In this case, there was a good sale on refurbished units.


Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1018AH
Mixer: Behringer MX882

Front Speakers: 3 x JBL EON515XT Powered Speakers
Rear Speakers: 2 x Harbinger APS12
Subwoofer: JBL 518S

Audio is a huge part of my setup and I believe it really makes the experience. Over the years, I’ve managed to piece together a 5.1 Surround Sound experience with professional powered DJ speakers and a mixture of consumer and professional equipment.

The challenge when mixing consumer and professional gear is to take into account signal level differences. The consumer equipment puts out -10dBv through the pre-outs, while the professional powered speakers are expecting to receive +4dBu. That’s where the mixer comes into play, receiving the signal from the consumer receiver and boosting the signal to what the powered speakers expect.

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Additional Equipment


I have a UPS system on mine due to kids and people walking around. The only thing that I plug into the UPS is the projector. This is to ensure if someone trips on a cable and it gets unplugged, that you have time to connect it back up or turn the projector off so that the bulb does not break.

Power Distribution System

Make / Model: ART PB 4×4

I picked up the ART PB 4×4 power distribution system to clean up the power signal due to using lengths of extension cords going out into the yard and I wanted to protect the electronics. I also went with the rack mount option since I have the round mount equipment case. The UPS and all the electronics plug into the PB 4×4.

Projector Stand

The project stand makes it nice for moving around and aligning the projector to the screen. After years of stacking it on top of the equipment case, it was a real pain having to move it a couple feet to get it aligned straight. This really helped reduce the time of the setup.

When shopping for a project stand, make sure you pick up one that is 3 to 4′ high, so that it can project to the screen without a whole lot of keystone corrections on the projector.

Equipment Case

I’m using a 19 inch Rack ABS Flight Case – 8U. This was nice so that I could keep all the equipment together and protected. I was then also able to add some audio patch panels in it to save even more setup and tear down time.

Garden Cart

I bought a cheap Harbor Freight garden cart when it was on sale. It has worked great on helping setup and tear down. I have the equipment case strapped to the garden cart and all the audio equipment and cables sit on the cart and make it easy to get in and out.

Wire Management