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How To Throw a Backyard Drive-In Movie Party This Summer

August 14, 2023 6 min read

Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to throw a backyard drive-in movie party, where we'll take your summer nights to blockbuster levels of fun and nostalgia. Picture this: balmy breezes, twinkling stars, and the anticipation of a movie night like no other. Maybe even a backyard bonfire before the movie starts. Who knows?

With our expert tips and a touch of FUNBOY magic, you'll learn how to create an outdoor theater that will transport you and your guests into a world of cinematic delight. 

So grab your popcorn, fluff up your pillows, and get ready for an epic backyard movie experience that will leave everyone cheering for an encore.

How To Pick the Best Spot

Finding the ideal location is the first step to setting the stage for your backyard drive-in movie party. Look around your outdoor space and consider these factors:

Space

Ensure you have enough room for a comfortable viewing area and adequate parking spaces for your guests' vehicles. Clear any obstacles and create a designated area that allows everyone to have an unobstructed view of the screen.

Privacy

While enjoying the open sky, it's important to maintain a sense of privacy. Consider the layout of your backyard and whether there are any potential distractions or neighbors who might be disturbed by the noise.

Lighting

Wait until nighttime — sunset is later during the summer, sometimes around 8 pm, depending on where you are. If you’re partying in the Arctic Circle with 24 hours of sunlight a day, wait until winter (or go inside to watch the latest release).

Power Source

Don't forget about the technical aspects. Ensure you have access to a power source for your projector and audio equipment. Extension cords and surge protectors will be your best friends in making sure everything runs smoothly.

Comfort

Create a cozy and inviting atmosphere by providing ample seating options. Arrange blankets, cushions, and chairs to ensure your guests can relax and enjoy the show in comfort.

Pro Tip: Take the drive-in movie experience up a notch with a few FUNBOY kiddie pools. Fill them up with soft blankets and pillows, creating a unique and comfortable seating area. It's a twist that'll add extra coziness to your backyard shin-dig! If the movie night has a few kiddos on the guest list, pull out something like the Sleepover Beds — aka the air mattress of your dreams. 

The flocked materials are as soft as your fav sweatshirt, and the designs are even cuter. Pick either the pink/blue convertible or vintage-style airplane (or all three). You can choose one based on the kids’ interests or even match them to the theme of the movie — watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bangin a car or watch Disney’s Planes in a plane. 

Setting Up the Outdoor Theater

Now that you've found the perfect spot, it's time to roll out the red carpet and set up your outdoor theater. Follow these steps to create an ambiance that will transport your guests to a movie wonderland:

The Big Screen

Invest in a high-quality outdoor projector screen or a large white sheet that can serve as your movie screen. Hang it up securely, ensuring it's wrinkle-free for a crisp and clear picture. 

Position the screen at a height that allows everyone to have a good view, whether they're sitting in chairs or parked in their vehicles.

Projector Power

Place your projector on a stable surface and ensure it's properly aligned with the screen. Connect it to a power source and your media device, whether it's a DVD player, laptop, or streaming device.

Test the projection before the party to ensure everything is working smoothly and adjust the focus and settings as needed.

Stellar Sound

Great visuals are important, but you need the audio experience to back them up. Set up speakers or a sound system to amplify the movie's sound. Position them strategically, aiming for balanced and immersive audio. 

Snack Station

What's a movie night without snacks? Create a designated area for a snack station where guests can help themselves to a variety of culinary delights. Set up a table or use FUNBOY’s Cabana Bar and fill it with popcorn, candy, and other movie snack favorites, and remember plenty of napkins and cups for refreshments.

Lighting Magic

Add a touch of enchantment to your outdoor theater with creative lighting. Hang string lights or fairy lights around the seating area to create a cozy and magical atmosphere.

Use lanterns or solar-powered lights to guide your guests and create a path from the parking area to the seating area. The soft glow will add a charming ambiance to your backyard cinema experience.

Curating the Perfect Movie Playlist

The movie playlist is the heart and soul of your backyard drive-in movie party. It sets the mood, sparks excitement, and creates a shared experience for everyone. Here's how to curate a movie lineup that will keep your guests entertained from the opening credits to the grand finale:

Theme Selection

Choose a theme for your movie night to add an extra layer of awesome. Whether it's a genre-based theme like "Action Extravaganza" or a nostalgic theme like "Throwback Classics," aligning your movie choices with a theme will make the selection process easier and more exciting.

Variety is Key

Aim for a mix of movies that cater to different tastes and preferences. Include a blend of blockbuster hits, cult classics, and lesser-known gems. This variety will ensure there's something for everyone and keep the energy high throughout the night.

Family-Friendly Favorites

If you're hosting a family-oriented event, consider including movies that are suitable for all ages. Animated films, beloved classics, and heartwarming adventures are top-notch choices that both kids and adults can enjoy.

Movie Double Features

Add extra excitement to your movie lineup by scheduling double features or intermissions. Pair movies that complement each other thematically or create an intriguing contrast. This allows guests to enjoy back-to-back movies or take a break during intermissions for a quick game or activity.

Audience Engagement

Encourage your guests to be a part of the movie experience by incorporating interactive elements. Prepare movie trivia questions related to the films being screened, and offer small prizes for correct answers. This not only keeps the energy high but also adds a fun, competitive element to the evening.

Tips for Hosting a Smooth Event

Hosting a backyard drive-in movie party requires planning and organization to ensure everything runs smoothly. Here are a few tips to help you host a seamless and unforgettable event:

Test Your Equipment

Prior to the party, test all the audiovisual equipment, including the projector, speakers, and media devices. Confirm that everything is working properly and that the sound and image quality are *chefs kiss.*

Have a Backup Plan

Prepare for unexpected circumstances by having a backup plan in case of technical glitches or inclement weather. Consider having an indoor viewing area or an alternative date ready in case the weather doesn't cooperate.

Create a Parking Guide

If guests will be parking their cars for the movie, clearly mark parking areas to avoid any confusion. Provide guidance on where to park and how to position vehicles for optimal viewing.

Communicate the Schedule

Clearly communicate the event's start time and the movie lineup to your guests. It's helpful to provide a schedule or program that outlines each movie's timing and any planned intermissions or activities.

Surprise Movie Snacks

Add an extra element of excitement by surprising your guests with unique and themed movie snacks. Instead of traditional popcorn, offer enticing additions such as flavored popcorn, gourmet popcorn toppings, or a build-your-own popcorn bar with different seasonings and mix-ins. 

You can also create themed snacks related to the movies being shown. For example, if you're screening a superhero movie, serve "Heroic Hot Dogs" or "Superpowered Sliders." These surprise treats will delight your guests and elevate the overall movie-watching experience to a whole new level. 

Set Clear Rules and Guidelines

Establish guidelines to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone. Inform guests about any noise restrictions, parking regulations, or guidelines related to the use of personal audio devices. Emphasize the importance of being respectful to neighbors and other guests.

Create a Welcoming Ambiance

Decorate the entryway and seating area to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Use themed decorations, such as movie posters or Hollywood-inspired props, to add a festive touch. Play background music before the movie starts to set the mood.

Capture the Memories

Encourage guests to capture their favorite moments by providing a designated photo booth area or props related to the movie theme. Create a unique hashtag for Instagram (maybe #FUNBOY, perhaps??), allowing everyone to share their memories and experiences online.

Lights, Camera, Action

Throwing a backyard drive-in movie party is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and bring the magic of the big screen to your own backyard. With the tips and tricks shared in this guide, you're well-equipped to host an unforgettable event. 

From setting up the perfect outdoor theater to curating an exciting movie playlist and creating a cozy ambiance, every detail counts. So gather your friends and family, grab your snacks, and let the movie magic begin!

Here at FUNBOY, we believe in creating extraordinary experiences, and hosting a backyard drive-in movie party is the perfect way to do just that. So go ahead, unleash your inner director, and make movie night an unforgettable affair. 

Sources:

How Do Solar Lights Work? | Wonderopolis

Super Movie Trivia Quizzes | Film Trivia Index

How to Calculate The Sun's Altitude | Sciencing

34 Movie Night Snacks That Almost Steal the Show | Bon Appétit


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