I got the idea stuck in my head that having movie night in the backyard this summer would be the perfect way to spend time on our nice weather Saturday nights. If you google "backyard movies" or "outdoor theatre" you get a lot of info from people out there that have already had this idea.
The trickiest part of showing movies outside is the screen. I read several do-it-yourself sites, but nothing really appealed to me. I wanted something easy, and most importantly, cheap. Some DIY sites had materials that cost upwards of $100 or more, plus elaborate building plans. This was not what I wanted to get into.
I used a mix-up of different ideas, went shopping, and came up with my own easy plan.
Step 1: Measure
You must measure the space you plan on projecting your movie onto. I had about 100 inches by 70 inches to work with. You want your screen to be wider than longer in order to best match the aspect ratio of the movie. There's precise formulas you can use to measure this, but I was way too lazy and "close enough" was good for me.
Step 2: Fabric
Lots of sites say to use drapery black out fabric. I went to inspect this at JoAnn's and it would have been perfect. And at only 2.99 a yard it would have been cheap. But the bolts at my store were only 45 inches wide, way too short. I perused some other fabric and found something called duck cloth in with the canvas section. It was a perfect 60 inches wide. It was pricier at 10.99 per yard, but when you go to JoAnn's never forget your 40% off coupon. 96 inches of this fabric cost about $17.
Step 3: Hardware
A trip to Lowe's netted me two 10 foot PVC pipes. Just ring the bell for service and someone will come and custom cut those for you. I whittled mine down to 100 inches. Light-weight pipe was only $1.99, heavier pipe was $2.99. You'll also need a length of rope and some duct or gorilla tape. I already had these on hand at home, so I didn't factor them into my total cost.
Stet 4: Construction
Move your living room furniture around and lay out your materials flat.
You want your light pipe to be the top, heavy pipe on the bottom.
Bind your fabric to the pipes using your tape. Make sure to line up your tape strips or you'll have a choppy edge.
Thread rope through top pipe and knot. Bind side edges of fabric to get a border, and to prevent fabric from unraveling.
Step 5: Hanging
I simply tacked a couple nails on the underside of our awning and hung up the screen.
The middle sagged a little, so I jimmied a loop with my gorilla tape, stuck it to the center of the pole, and hung it on another nail.
The fabric is cotton so it got a little wrinkly, I attempted to iron it, but that was more trouble than it was worth. The heavier pole at the bottom weighs the screen down, and left to hang for the afternoon, the wrinkles got better. The wrinkles ended up having no effect whatsoever on the movie, so all in all, they don't matter.
Then it was movie time. We watched "Back to the Future". It's hard to take a good nighttime shot, but the screen looked great. Total cost was only about $22. And putting it together only took about a half hour. Easy! It also rolls up for easy storage in the garage. Backyard movies might be my best idea ever.