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How to make your backyard the coziest drive-in theater

Grab the popcorn

You may have a top-of-the-line TV in your living room, but there’s just something about watching a movie on a big screen. When the weather’s warm, you can turn your backyard into a drive-in theater for your family and friends to host your own film festivals with an impressively sized screen.

Do you need some help setting up your own personal movie theater? Here are all the products you need to create the coziest of drive-ins in your backyard this summer.

Shop this article: Kodak Ultra Mini Portable ProjectorAnker Nebula Capsule Max and Elite Screens Yard Master 2

How to set up a backyard drive-in

You obviously need a portable projector to provide excellent picture quality for your movie night, but the first — and most important — step in creating a backyard drive-in is choosing the right spot to set it up. Whether you invest in an outdoor projector screen or just use a white bedsheet, it’s usually best to place the projection surface against one of your home’s exterior walls or in your driveway against the garage door. A sheet can move and wrinkle easily, so you want to secure it as taut as possible if using one.

Don’t forget to set up an area with beverages and snacks, such as popcorn and candy, that is easily accessible from the seating area. You don’t want your guests blocking the view of the screen every time they get up for some M&M’s or more popcorn.

Backyard drive-in theater must-haves

Tech essentials

best Kodak Ultra Mini Portable Projector

Kodak Ultra Mini Portable Projector

This super-compact projector is the perfect choice for backyard movie nights. It has HDMI, USB and Micro SD ports and can project on screen up to 100 inches. It also boasts built-in speakers and threading for use on a standard tripod mount.

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best Anker Nebula Capsule Max

Anker Nebula Capsule Max

This top-of-the-line portable projector offers sharp 720p visuals and works well in low-lighting situations. It also has an auto-focus feature and provides up to four hours of run time for movie nights. You can stream directly from Netflix via the Nebula Connect app for smartphones and tablets too.

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best Elite Screens Yard Master 2

Elite Screens Yard Master 2

This durable, lightweight outdoor projector screen is available in nine sizes and assembles quickly. It has a fully tensioned snap button frame to ensure that the screen is perfectly smooth and taut for projection. It also cleans easily with soap and water.

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best Bang and Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Generation)

Bang and Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Generation)

If you want to boost the sound quality for your backyard drive-in, this high-end Bluetooth speaker is ideal. It’s waterproof and dustproof, making it safe for use outdoors, even in inclement weather. It also offers up to 43 hours of battery life on a single charge.

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best Roku Ultra

Roku Ultra

Super fast and user-friendly, this streaming device makes it easy to access your favorite movies if your projector doesn’t allow for direct streaming. It supports 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and audio for an authentic home theater experience. It includes a voice-controlled remote too.

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Seating essentials

best Degrees of Comfort Outdoor Floor Cushion

Degrees of Comfort Outdoor Floor Cushion

Kids will love sitting on these comfy oversized cushions during backyard movie nights. They are filled with premium shredded memory foam and provide effective support for hours. They’re lightweight too, so they’re easy to move around your yard.

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best Jaxx Juniper Outdoor Bean Bag Patio Chair

Jaxx Juniper Outdoor Bean Bag Patio Chair

This outdoor bean bag makes for comfortable backyard drive-in seating. It has a machine-washable cover and a handle for easy carrying around your yard. It also contains polystyrene bead filling to conform perfectly to the shape of your body.

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best Oniva Portable Reclining Camp Chair

Oniva Portable Reclining Camp Chair

This comfortable camp chair provides plenty of support for even the longest movie marathons. It is padded for extra comfort and offers three recline positions. Its sturdy steel frame is durable, but it also folds easily for storage.

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best Coleman Quattro Lax Quad Chair

Coleman Quattro Lax Quad Chair

If you want to snuggle up on your backyard movie nights, this two-person camp chair is a perfect choice. It has a strong steel frame that can support 225 pounds per seat and two mesh cup holders for beverages.

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best DOWN UNDER OUTDOORS Large Stadium Blanket

Down Under Outdoors Large Stadium Blanket

Spread out this rainproof, windproof fleece blanket for the kids to sit on during backyard movie nights. It’s machine-washable for easy cleanup and large enough to fit two adults or three or more kids. It comes with a convenient carrying bag too.

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Refreshment options

best West Bend Theater Crazy Popcorn Machine

West Bend Theater Crazy Popcorn Machine

This classic popcorn maker allows you to have theater-quality popcorn for your backyard drive-in. It can make up to six servings in only a few minutes and holds up to 4 quarts of popcorn at a time. It also has a small footprint, so it won’t take up much space on your table or counter.

Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

best Nostalgia Vintage Countertop Snow Cone Maker

Nostalgia Vintage Countertop Snow Cone Maker

On hot summer nights, this snow cone machine makes the perfect cool treats for your backyard theater. It holds enough ice for up to 20 snow cones at a time and features a durable stainless steel blade for shaving. It also has a safety mechanism to protect your hand, so you don’t have to worry about using it around kids.

Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

best Eastern Standard provisions Movie Night Snack Pack

Eastern Standard Provisions Movie Night Artisanal Soft Pretzel Snack Pack

These soft pretzels are another classic snack for backyard movie nights. The set includes two large soft pretzels, a bag of pretzel bites, six soft pretzel sticks, pretzel salt and a jar of mustard. The pretzels are all-natural and vegan too.

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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