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How to Set Up a Backyard Movie Night on a Budget

The best outdoor projector screen, movie projector, and streaming device to set up a backyard movie night for less than $400.

Now that the temperature is cooling down in the evenings, we kicked off one of our favorite traditions for fall again this year: backyard movie night!

Last year, when I shared how we made a DIY outdoor projector screen using just a cheap shower curtain on our back porch, I had a ton of messages asking for all the details about our outdoor movie projector screen set up. So I thought it was the perfect time to walk y’all through it.

The best outdoor projector screen, movie projector, and streaming device to set up a backyard movie night for less than $400.

How to Set Up a Backyard Movie Night on a Budget

Supplies

Since last year, I’ve done a lot more research on projectors and outdoor projector screens to determine the most bang for our buck. And I managed to pull together an excellent quality movie experience for around $400!

I figured out a few alternatives to make it even cheaper than that too.

The Best Projector on a Budget for a Backyard Movie Night

There are several outdoor-rated projectors that are specifically designed to weather the elements, some even with solar power capabilities.

But not a single projector I found was less than $600, and I just can’t see spending that steep amount for a casual family backyard movie night, especially since we likely wouldn’t watch an outdoor movie in the rain anyway.

After lots of comparing, this projector from Amazon beat them all with over 1,000 5-star reviews for around $200 without sacrificing the bells and whistles for a great user experience like:

  • 5G wifi
  • Bluetooth
  • 4K
  • Dolby sound
  • iOS/Android pairing capabilities
  • 9500 lumens to be viewable in brighter light

The projector does need a power cord so I’ll explain how we set that up later in this post.

How to set up a backyard movie night with recommended projector, outdoor projector screen, movie streaming device, and bluetooth speaker

Outdoor Projector Screen

We use this 120-inch 4K outdoor projector screen for $104 for larger 160 degree viewing and results in a clear, high resolution picture with richer colors versus the homemade route we used before.

Cheaper alternative: If you want a really cheap alternative to a store-bought outdoor projector screen, you can see this post for a DIY projector screen repurposing a shower curtain liner and bungee cords for around $20.

How to set up a backyard movie night with recommended projector and outdoor projector screen

How to Stream Movies onto a Projector

The easiest method we’ve found to stream movies onto a projector is with an Amazon Fire TV Stick for about $50.

Cheaper alternative: Just the basic $30 Fire TV Stick Lite works completely fine too, if you don’t mind sacrificing the 4K picture quality and Dolby Vision.

How to stream movies for a backyard movie night on an outdoor projector screen

Setup: Just plug the Fire TV Stick receiver into the HD-2 port into the back of the projector.

Select HD-2 on your projector’s menu screen, and follow the directions from your Fire TV Stick manual to register your device and sign in to whatever streaming services you prefer – Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, AppleTV, ESPN, etc.

How to stream movies for a backyard movie night on an outdoor projector screen

How to Position and Power Your Projector

We chose to use this adjustable laptop tripod for $36 so we could easily raise and lower the projector as needed to best fit the outdoor projector screen.

Cheaper alternative: Just a simple stool or small table you already have will work totally fine if you don’t mind sacrificing the ease of adjustability.

how to set up a backyard movie night with recommended projector and outdoor projector screen

To get power to the projector, we just used a long outdoor extension cord. Make sure to use a cord with at least 2 ports to plug in the Fire TV Stick along with the projector for movie streaming.

We are still in a waiting period for our backyard fence replacement, so while we wait for power in our backyard added onto the new fence, we ran the outdoor extension cord behind our fence…

running an extension cord for an outdoor projector

…and up to our porch to plug into our back porch outlet.

running an extension cord for an outdoor projector

We made sure to place it where no one would trip over it. That’s not ideal, but it works. Just keep tripping hazards in mind when running an extension cord and always store it out of your yard when not in use.

running an extension cord to an outdoor projector

Setting Up an Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker (Optional)

You definitely can get away with only using your projector speaker and forgoing this Bluetooth speaker step without any additional cost.

If you need to increase the volume of your projector or want the flexibility of directing the sound from your movie closer to your viewing audience, you can pair the projector to a portable Bluetooth speaker. Follow the steps on the projector menu for Bluetooth pairing.

We used this JBL Flip 4 speaker for a volume boost and placed it in the middle of our seating area. Depending on how loud you need the movie experience to be, you can utilize speakers as loud as this JBL boombox with 20,000mAh.

how to set up a bluetooth speaker with an outdoor movie projector

That’s the set up! And now you can enjoy a fun-filled backyard movie night.

It really is one of our favorite ways to spend time with family and friends making memories during this season.

Do you recognize this movie we watched?

backyard movie night

I’ll share some fire pit decorating ideas we did for our backyard movie night too that helps make the entire experience even more magical.

Got any good movies that are crowd favorites and perfect for fall nights?

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6 Comments

  1. I love how amazing your backyard is now. The variety of options for fun as a family is fantastic.

    I wanted to ask you about your guest room makeover. You mentioned purchasing a mattress online that was just right for the room. I would so appreciate it if you’d share again the name of the mattress and the website. Thanks in advance.

  2. Such a great idea. And with all of your lanterns and greenery it’s better than any movie at the theater. I thought I’d seen a photo further back of your seating area? Did I dream that? I’d love to see it.

  3. I love this! Have you (or anyone else) had experience with a good projector that doesn’t require wifi? Our reception doesn’t reach to our backyard.

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