How To Build an Outdoor Cinema
“What movie are we watching tonight?”
Movie night has been a pandemic staple at our house. In fact we’ve been watching them outside for so long we first started with hat and mittens to get through the 2 hours. Now with summer here we are finally doing it right!
Since most aren’t going to the theatre these days this backyard build has been perfect for breathing new life into movie night, making staying a home a real treat. Plus it’s a great way to have another family over and still keep your distance.
START BY CUTTING THE PIPES
Start by cutting your larger 2” ABS pipes 4 inches taller than your flower pot. In our case, the flower pot measured 22” so we cut our pipes to 26”.
ADD THEM TO YOUR PLANTERS
Hold the pipe flush against the bottom of the flower pot and fill it with gravel or limestone screenings about 2/3rds of the way up your pot, so your ABS pipe stays nice and sturdy.
Fill the rest of the flower pot with potting soil and transplant some flowers. This will disguise your pipe. Put the 2” ABS cap on the pipe when you’re not using your screen. No one will ever know your flower pot is pulling double duty!
MAKE THE FRAME FOR YOUR SCREEN
Next cut your 2 smaller 1.5 “pipes to 36” and insert them into the larger 2” pipes hidden in your flower pots. Add the tee fittings on top. Cut another 2 – 1.5″ ABS pipes to the width you’d like your screen. Make your width about 1 inch longer on each side that the tarp you’re using for your screen. In our case, the tarp measured 8 feet by 10 feet when folded in half, so we cut our pipe to 8’ 1”.
With the tee fittings parallel, insert the larger 1.5 inch x 8’ 1” foot ABS pipe to make the bottom horizontal strapping of your screen.
FINISH THE FRAME
Next decide the height you’d like your screen to be, based this on your tarp size.
We wanted to be able to fold our tarp 8×10 foot tarp in half and wrap it around the top and bottom pipe, so we cut our side pipes to 49”. Remember 36” of the screen legs are going to be inserted inside the larger 2” pipe, so be sure to account for that measurement along with your tee and elbow fittings when cutting your top side pipes.
In our case, we cut the 1.5” pipes to 49”. Add the elbows to the top of your side pipes and insert your last 8’1” horizontal pipe across the top.
Presto! That’s your screen frame.
Now it’s time to turn that white tarp into a movie screen!
I sewed a strip of 2” Velcro to the top and bottom and top of my tarp (opposite sides) so I could wrap it around the screen frame. I’m sewing on the Janome Continental M7 Sewing Machine. Perfect for sewing heavy duty materials and mismatched fabrics like the tarp and Velcro.
WRAP THE TARP AROUND YOUR FRAME
You can easily wrap your tarp around the pipes and secure it in place with the Velcro!
We didn’t glue any of the pipe junctions because we want this to easily come apart when we’re not using it. And it was plenty sturdy enough without glue. When the movie is done, the tall skinny pipes are easy to store and the tarp folds up. Just put the caps on your pipes and leave the flower pots out in your back yard. No one will ever know it’s really your screen stand!
I added some patio string lights from Lowe’s for extra ambiance. I attached these string lights onto the gromets on the tarp, they already had hooks built in on the ends. Bonus! So making use of the grommets in the tarp. Double bonus!
Lights! Camera! Popcorn! If you buy something fun, check out the Smartphone Projector 2.0