Over the summer, we partnered with my friends at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment to put together something that I’ve always wanted to have here at Rock Father HQ: A Backyard Theater. The set-up was simple and relatively inexpensive (some items were provided for the project), and sans fighting the unpredictable and uncontrollable factors like weather (heat/storms) and bugs, having the ability to enjoy movies outside, with friends, and in our own backyard was a fun new way to bring people together. We screened some big ones, too – STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, ZOOTOPIA, and most recently, THE JUNGLE BOOK. Now that the kids are back in school and the cooler, fall nights are coming, we’re not going to let the fun stop. In fact, I’m eyeing some new releases and old favorites for potential screenings this fall. In fact, shorter days make for earlier screenings, so I’m all for grabbing the blankets and cuddling up with the family.
MARVEL’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – Out on Digital HD, Blu-ray & DVD this month, the big-screen throw-down between the split factions of The Avengers (#TeamCap vs. #TeamIronMan) is ripe for big-screen viewing… if only for the airport battle alone (with scene-stealing turns by a pair of insect-loving newcomers, Ant-Man and Spider-man).
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (25th Anniversary Edition) – The latest in The Walt Disney Signature Collection ranks among the most beloved films of all-time for The Rock Daughters. Actually, our oldest has already played “Belle” in a Broadway Beginners production of a play based on the film, and our youngest rocks a Belle dress at least once a week. I’m sure the neighbors would be our guest for a screening – a great primer for next year’s live-action tale with Emma Watson.
Disney-Pixar’s FINDING DORY – I have to confess a sin among those deeply embedded into the Disney community… I have not seen FINDING DORY yet. Time just got away from me on it, but the kids have the toys, we’ve had a DORY party, and they can’t wait to see it at home. With the release scheduled for November 15, there’s time to screen it in the backyard before the first snowfall hits… in theory.
THE BFG – Technically, this one hasn’t been announced for home video just yet, but my money has it arriving well before Christmas, hopefully in November or so, which could still make it a contender for a cool-month screening. While the film didn’t light up the box office the way many had hoped here in the ‘States, this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book from director Steven Spielberg should find an audience at home. I’ve seen it twice, and think that families will love it. Want to delve deeper? I interviewed much of the cast and crew back in June. Read all of my coverage here.
PETE’s DRAGON (2016 or 1977) – This one is a bigger wild card since it just hit theaters last month, so while it could arrive for the home market pre-Holidays, I’m betting January. But, we have the 1977 edition on Blu-ray, and that would make a great classic screening, especially if we get some of the girls’ friends over here – ones who have never seen it before.
Aside from the feature films, I’ve even thought about doing some TV screenings since so many great titles from Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD have been hitting the streets. I’d imagine moving the theater to the front yard could also attract a good crowd if we were to play DOC McSTUFFINS: TOY HOSPITAL, ELENA OF AVALOR: READY TO RULE or THE LION GUARD: UNLEASH THE POWER, all of which hit DVD within a month. There’s also the Second Season of STAR WARS REBELS (we still need to pick that up), or the possibility of going Halloween-y. There’s the obvious, like THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but I was thinking THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD & MR. TOAD, TOY STORY OF TERROR, or maybe even DESCENDANTS.
One constant is that no matter what we choose to watch, the kids love watching movies outside.
A Backyard Home Theater Overview:
To build your own backyard theater, you really only need these five simple items: 1 – An LED projector; 2- something to project from (iPad/Tablet/Laptop/Blu-ray Player/etc; 3 – Speaker/Speakers; 4- proper cables to connect all the devices; 5- something to project onto – Screen/Wall/Fence/etc.
My friends at Disney sent us an Ion Audio Tailgater – a one-piece portable speaker/P.A. system; an Axxa PICO P300 Micro Projector; an Amazon Essentials Digital AV Adapter for my iPad Mini; and an Amazon Basics 3′ HDMI Cable. I purchased the Camp Chef Outdoor Entertainment Gear 92″ Portable Outdoor Screen from Amazon to complete our set-up.