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Watching the Stars Under the Stars

A BenQ Guide to Backyard Movie Night


Spring has sprung and summer is just an equinox away.
Warmer temperatures mean more outdoor fun, and what could be more fun than a drive-in movie?
What if the drive-in was in your backyard?

What do you need to bring the nostalgia of the Starlight or the Galaxy or the Skyview home?
What do you need to bring an unforgettable night of cinema to your cul-de-sac?
Fret not, movie lover.
BenQ has the answers.

The 4-S Guide to Backyard Movie Night

Throwing a successful movie night al fresco requires getting several things right. There’s lots to consider, from technology to thunderstorms. There are four main categories. They all start with S.


Anyone can drag an HDTV outside and call it good. But that’s not the drive-in experience we’re looking for, Obi-Wan. Like the theatres, your backyard movie night is going to begin with two crucial components: A projector and a screen to project upon.

For the best outdoor viewing experience there are two must-haves in a projector. Lumens and resolution are your make-or-break ingredients. Lumens refers to level of brightness the projector can produce. Every back yard is different, but you still have to pierce the darkness to show your show. Projectors that can produce in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 lumens should produce great results.

Also, there is a reason drive-in movie start well after sundown. Projectors just can’t compete with sunlight. Like in a home theatre room, darkness is the best surrounding. There are many suitable projectors in the BenQ family for the job. Although our line of 4K projectors are fantastic choices, you don’t necessarily have to have 4K outside. Projectors that can throw 1080p HD resolution will deliver a great experience. Full 1080p HD is a perfect resolution for screens up to 100 inches.

One projector we would recommend is the BenQ MH733.It’s a 4000 lumen, full 1080p HD DLP multimedia projector with a 16,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio for sharpness. It also features an accommodating 1.15 to 1.5:1 throw ratio and a 1.3x zoom that can fill an 80” screen from 6.7 feet (if you have a smaller yard) or bigger screens (as mentioned earlier, up to 120” at 10 ft.) for bigger yards.

Your backyard movie party should be just that. A party. Watching a movie should not be as complicated as launching the Space Shuttle or require the expertise of SpaceX. The quicker you can set up the quicker you can tend those burgers and bratwursts.

BenQ projectors like the MH733 are light and portable and feature Automatic Vertical Keystone correction and Corner Fit Correction which makes setup a snap.


Outdoor projection screens come in a variety of shapes and sizes and deployment options. There are stand-mounted ones, ones you can mount on an exterior wall or backyard fence, and inflatable ones. The size and type of screen that’s best for your backyard is determined by the size of your yard and nature. Is your back yard breezy? A screen with an anchoring system is a must to ensure movie night doesn’t feature Gone with the Wind.

Outdoor screens can range in price from the thousands to the hundreds. You’ll need to do some shopping to find the perfect one for your back yard and budget. A couple to consider are the Camp Chef Backyard Big Screen Lite 92" Folding Projection Screen and others by Camp Chef, which range between $160 and $400. Companies like Open Air Cinema have inflatable options, from a 9-foot screen for $799 up to a 20-footer listed at $3,199. There are also companies like FunFlicks that offer rental options.

You might even get away with projecting the image on a wall or hang a sheet from a tree. It’s just crazy enough that it might work.


Another thing to keep in mind when putting together a backyard movie night is the source of your programming. Does your projector have multiple input options? HDMI is the king connector and enables you to connect devices like a Blu-ray player or a satellite receiver. If you have adequate Wi-Fi coverage, streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku Streaming Stick, and the Apple TV are great.
The Apple TV allows you to stream content from your iOS device via AirPlay and connect to your collection of programs in iTunes. Or, you can use the built-in apps on Apple TV, Roku and Fire to stream content from Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime to name a few.

For Android devices there is MHL which enables you to connect and charge your smartphone or tablet and play content through the projector. Yep. BenQ projectors MH733 have it.


We’ve covered the sights, and now it’s time to look (or should we say listen?) at the other half of the equation, sound. Most projectors have built in speakers of around 10 watts or so, if that’s not enough sound for you, there are lot of options out there and we’ll explore a couple.

Wireless is the way to go when looking for back yard movie sound. Bluetooth keeps people from tripping over cables as they annoyingly walk between your projector and screen. (There’s always that guy.)

The ION Audio Pathfinder High Power All-Weather Rechargeable Speaker is a great option at $249.99 and is iPX5 water resistant. It has a 100-foot Bluetooth range and 100 watts of power. Another option is the $299.99 Exos-9 Bluetooth Speaker from Aiwa.


Don’t forget the creature comforts for your back yard movie night, and don’t let the creatures interfere with your comfort! Insect repellent, citronella candles and foggers are good to keep the mosquitoes away. Have plenty of cold beverages on hand and lots of popcorn. You might even consider a $299 Great Northern Matinee Movie Popcorn Machine from Home Depot or a fire pit option like the $17 Outdoor Popcorn Popper from Uncommon Goods.

Finally, consider the neighbors. Don’t crank up a big bang shoot ‘em up in the wee small hours of the morning and rattle the windows next door. Plan in advance, and if your backyard movie night is going to be a late one, let the neighborhood know. Better yet, invite them to share in the fun of your back yard drive-in movie!

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