Nothing says lazy days of summer like spending as much time outside as humanly possible. This means being outside for everything – from eating and drinking, to working, to having a ton of fun – and that list definitely includes watching movies outdoors. So, today I’m going to show you how to make your very own DIY outdoor movie theater!
I was inspired by Valu Home Centers blog with their awesome movie screen setup. Knowing that I needed this to be light and easily deconstructed (since its main purpose was for a family vacation!), I altered my plans accordingly. This meant using PVC pipes. Yes, you heard me. PVC pipes. They are light and mighty – a perfect combination.
Before I get started with the details, here is what you will need for this project:
- 4 PVC pipes (I used 1 ¼ thick pipes that came in lengths of 10 feet)
- 2 PVC elbows
- 2 PVC T’s
- 2 bedsheets (two for the fact that you don’t want too much light to pass through)
- Metal eyelets and eyelet install kit
- 2 Stakes (I used broken shovel handles)
- Tools: Measuring tape, scissors, sewing machine (or no sew hem tape), hack saw, iron, small hammer/rubber mallet
Step 1: Figure Out the Math
To start, you have to do some math depending on what size you would like your screen to be. You will want your screen to be a 16:9 ratio or else you might end up with wasted space.
The sheets I bought were 102 inches in length and I left it that way since I wanted it to be as wide and big as possible. To figure out what the height would be in this 16:9 ratio, channel your inner high school math and take a look at the equations below. For a width of 102, the height ended up being 57.375 so I rounded up to a clean 58.
Step 2: Cut and Sew the Fabric
I only had to cut and sew one side of each sheet (score!) I made my cuts, pinned the edges according to size, made a simple hem on each sheet and was on my way.
Note: If you don’t have a sewing machine or if you don’t want to touch one with a ten-foot-pole, no sew hem tape will do the job. Just buy some at your local craft store, read the directions and use your iron to apply. It’s that easy.
Step 4: Attach Eyelets to Fabric and Iron
For the next step, I cut small holes that were evenly spaced for the eyelets. Using the eyelet tool, I hammered each eyelet into place. This makes everything extremely secure.
Next, iron your sheets. This may seem like a menial and silly task, but trust me. You won’t want to view your movie with wrinkles. You and all the celebrities in your movies will thank me later. ☺
Step 5: Cut PVC Pipe for Movie Screen Frame
Now that the sheet (screen) portion of the project is set and ready to go, it’s time to move onto the frame! To do so, measure your PVC pipes slightly larger than the length and width of your bed sheets; for the 102 x 58 screen I went with a 108 x 62 frame. This adds 3 inches to each side so you have room to tie your sheet tight upon installation.
Once you have your pipes measured for your screen frame (two at 108 inches, two at 62 inches) use your hack saw to make your cuts.
You will also want to cut legs for the frame depending on what height you want the entire structure to be; Mine were about 42 inches in length. (I used the two pieces of PVC that were left over from the cuts that were made from the shorter sides of the frame.)
Step 6: Connect PVC Pipe Using PVC Elbows and T’s
This is where you’ll really start to see the project coming together. Using the two PVC elbows and the two PVC T’s, I assembled my structure.
The PVC elbows go on the top of the frame and the PVC T’s go on the bottom portion so you can connect the legs (which we will stake into the ground when we’re ready for the final installation).
I felt like I was playing with an adult version of Legos or Lincoln Logs! SO. MUCH. FUN!
Step 7: Attach Movie Screen to the PVC Frame
Once your PVC frame is put together, attach the smoothly ironed screen to the frame. Do this by looping string through the eyelet and around the PVC, securing with a knot.
I used twine to do this because that’s what I had on hand. You can find similar twine at the Dollar Tree, but any type of rope or strong string will do the job as long as it will fit through your eyelets!
Be sure to tie the rope tight for a smooth screen surface.
Step 8: Stake PVC Pipe into Ground
The final phase of this DIY project involves putting it upright. I decided to stake two stakes in the ground and capitalize on the fact that PVC pipes are hollow.
Note: I used two broken shovel handles but any sturdy stake will do. The best thing about this is that it is easy to set up and even more of a breeze to take down.
Step 9: Attach the Top PVC Movie Screen to the Staked PVC and Enjoy!
Now all that is left to do is attach the screen to your base using the PVC T’s we discussed earlier and set up your projector (I borrowed one from a friend). Sit back, relax and enjoy your movie! We decided to connect our computer and stream Jurassic World from our HBO GO account. Oh hey, Chris Pratt!
Have questions or comments about this project? Leave them below! I would love to hear from you!