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June 6th this year marks the 80th anniversary for drive-in movie theaters. While not as popular as they once were, some enthusiasts are setting up a big screen and projector in their backyards keeping the experience alive.

At one time there were over 4,000 drive-in theaters that existed in Canada and the United States. Currently though there are less than 380 in the United States.

The first drive-in theater was opened in Pennsauken, New Jersey by Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. Initially he experimented with a setup in his driveway a year prior. His test rig included a 1928 Kodak projector mounted on top of his car and a screen hanging between two trees in his yard. Loudspeakers were tested from behind the screen, which was the first use of that method on record. The final design however included loudspeakers mounted to towers.


Drive-ins have nostalgic feelings attached for many, which explains the increase in backyard setups. But why the decline in drive-in theaters across North America? Part of the reason had to do with Daylight Savings Time which caused an hour loss for projection time. The land that the theaters took up became much more valuable to developers and many of the land masses were eventually used for flea markets or subdivisions. Lastly, color televisions and VCRs made it more convenient and affordable to watch TV at home, as the weather and time of day made no difference. People soon missed the drive-in experience however, because as some say, "there is no movie watching experience like it."

Affordable outdoor home theater setups

I recently looked at the PRIMA Cinema Server, the IMAX Private Theatre, and Dolby Atmos for non-standard indoor viewing, but now I'd like to present an overview for an outdoor home theater setup.

When considering an outdoor setup, the first decision to take into account is if this is to be just a one time thing or an ongoing adventure. This decision is critical naturally, in determining how the theater should be setup and what equipment needs to be purchased.

Like indoor screens, outdoor screens vary in size, and in general, increase in price the larger they go. Weather proof screens are ideal but will run a little bit higher in cost, but could last a very long time when taken care of properly.

120 inch 16:9 projector screens can be purchased for as little as $140. Inflatable screens are a great investment for regular use and are becoming increasingly popular for home users. AeroPro and Airscreen are the top providers in this niche. They run around $11,000 and include amplification, and loudspeakers. They are simple to setup, often in under 3 minutes and are fire retardant and waterproof.

Make sure the accompanying projector has a high enough lumen output rating for the screen being used and you'll be good to go.

Lastly, your content source for the backyard home theater isn't limited to Blu-ray or DVD, consider Internet streaming as well.

While this isn't the same as a drive in because in most cases you won't be sitting in the car tuning the radio into a station set to pick up the audio, it does provide outdoor home theater entertainment for friends, neighbors (hopefully) and family during warm weather months. Reconsider passing out flyers and charging for the big event though, unless a license is acquired.

Check the source article for a full run down on how to setup an outdoor home theater.
 
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