Over the past year, open air cinemas and drive through cinemas have become a very popular option for those who want to get still attend events whilst restrictions are in place. With the easing of more restrictions, we’re seeing lots more open air cinemas and ‘Drive-Thru Cinemas‘ popping up all across the UK!

Outdoor cinemas are a fun and exciting way of enjoying a Film or Series with your Friends and Family while enjoying the fresh air.

However, there’s a lot of planning and organisation that goes into making a successful Outdoor Cinema Event.

So we’ve decided to write a comprehensive guide on how to organise your own Outdoor Cinema Event!

Mobile Outdoor Cinema Hire available for Outdoor Events and more across the UK.
Mobile Outdoor Cinema Hire available for Outdoor Events and more across the UK.

1. Create an Event Brief

The very first step of organising your own Outdoor Cinema Event (or any event for that matter) is defining the exact purpose of your event. This enables you to set a realistic budget and gives you a base to stand on when planning any aspect of the event, which we will get on to at a later stage.

Start with a simple list:

  • What is the purpose of the event?
  • How many visitors are attending your Outdoor Cinema Event?
  • What sort of Audience do you want to attend? Adult 18+ audience or a Family-oriented audience?
  • Do you need to host the event in a specific area?
  • Are you hiring a space to host the event?
  • Are you providing any other services at your event e.g. catering, other entertainment?
  • Does space allow for you to do the event within line of COVID guidelines?

This simple checklist will give you a great understanding of how large your Outdoor Cinema Event needs to be and will therefore give you some guidance to setting a budget, which is the next step.

2. Set a Budget For Your Outdoor Cinema Event

Now you have a clear idea in mind for the purpose of your Outdoor Cinema Event, the first real planning stage is understanding the Budget you have to work with. This enables you to set up parameters to work around.

You need to understand which aspects of your event brief are absolutely essential and areas which can be more flexible to suit your budget and of course allowing for extra safety measures.

You will already have a figure in mind for how much you want to spend on an Outdoor Cinema event, but to get the most realistic budget (if you have never done this before), it’s always best to contact companies for quotes in each area you need:

  • Hiring an Event Space: contact venues, landowners for quotes on hiring their space
  • Outdoor Cinema Screen Hire: contact suppliers for quotes on cinema screen hire
  • Transport: are you providing transport for guests or are they getting their own way there? Get a quote from a logistics company
  • Catering Requirements: are you providing catering services for your guests? To what level do you want your catering to be?
  • Health and safety: advisers are keen to ensuring no one will be placed in harm’s way
  • Extras: are you providing other entertainment and attractions on top of the Cinema Screen?

Again, consider the audience you will have in attendance as this will have an impact on what you provide at the event. For example if it is 18+, you will want to focus more on the Catering side of your event. If it is a family-friendly event, you may want to consider activities for them to enjoy.

If you contact an event management company like ourselves, you may find it works out much more cost effective as we provide several services in one and work with other suppliers who can give you access to the best prices possible.

When setting a budget, remember what is important for you and your guests. Always consider the needs of your Guests; guests do not want to pay up for an Outdoor Cinema Event with poor visual and audio quality.

Always plan for your number of expected guests, making sure there is enough space and all are given the space to enjoy the screening. It’s always a good idea to have a bit of surplus to avoid any disappointments.

3. Choose a Location: Where Are You Hosting Your Outdoor Cinema Event?

Location is paramount when hosting any outdoor Cinema Event; it is absolutely crucial to get this right to achieve your desired outcome.

Always choose an impressive location that is reachable by your audience and caters to the number in attendance. Take a look at Hiring:

  • Land by a lakeside
  • Land in the Countryside
  • A Large, Stately Home
  • A Beach
  • Even a Boat!

Always keep in mind the movie you are screening; you can always choose a location that matches the film for more effect! For example, if you were watching a Batman film, you could choose a location that has a view of a city.

Remember: when choosing a location to host your Outdoor Cinema Event, you will need to apply for a public performance license.

3.1. Consider How Your Visitors Will View The Screen at Your Location

One of the first things you will want to consider with your location is that your guests will need seating, or a space to park their car if you are hosting a drive-thru cinema event.

Your audience will need good visibility of the screen no matter where they are parked/sitting. Also consider how they will access any of the amenities at your event, for example, if you have a Pop-Up Bar, is this easy to access from all areas of your event space?

If you are having seating, why not get creative with it? Choose bright, colourful picnic blankets, large puffy pillows, gazebos and other outdoor event furniture.

3.2. Consider Logistics When Choosing a Location

When choosing a location for your Outdoor Cinema Event, always look at the logistical side; how are your guests getting to your event?

Choose an easily accessible area that is easy to reach by car and public transport, such as trains, buses and coaches.

More often than not, your guests will drive in, therefore it’s very important to choose a location that accommodates for parking. If you have a fairly large car park, you will need staff who can monitor the car park and keep the space safe for your visitors.

3.4. Beware Of The Surrounding Area

Being that you are planning an Outdoor Cinema Event, your event will be fairly loud and a visual eyesore for the surrounding area.

Always get the correct permissions to host your Outdoor Cinema Event in your chosen location and communicate with the locals.

Always keep your audio and visual levels to the recommended levels.

Warning signing saying 'beware bigfoot' used as a reference to things you might see at an outdoor cinema
Beware Of The Surrounding Area| Running an outdoor event means you can see the unexpected!

3.5. Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance to your Outdoor Cinema Event. Thoroughly check your event space and assess it’s safety.

Make sure your event space is completely secured, up to scratch with health & safety measures. Any connections, electrical wires should be secure and out of the way, any frames for the projection should be secured. You want to minimise any health and safety risks you can.

Event Management companies will have Event Insurance, but if you are hosting it yourself, you will want public liability insurance so you are fully covered.

Consider the event space for cleaning prior, during and after the event. Be sure to explain the steps you are taking and doing.

Cleaning event spaces is more important now than ever.

4. Personalize Your Outdoor Cinema Event Space

Once you’ve got a location in mind, think about how you may want to customize it!

A lot of our clients like to choose a theme to match the film they are screening, such as a James Bond theme. Others like to choose a fun and creative theme like a 1960s theme, which is perfect for Drive-Thru Cinema Screening events.

Create a list of your decoration ideas and narrow it down to just a few options. Settle for an idea that makes your event wild and exciting!

Always consider adding some extra features, such as Music, Live Performances, Activities and even interactive entertainment.

To top it off, you may want to consider adding a ‘fancy dress’ aspect to your Outdoor Cinema Event; start a best-dressed competition where the winner(s) can get free food and drinks and more.

5. Set a Date For Your Outdoor Cinema Event

Picking a Date for your Outdoor Cinema Event is crucial. You need enough time to plan and create your event. You also need to be careful of the dates you are choosing as you likely want the weather to be on your side!

The Date needs to be picked with your guests in mind; it needs to be a date / time that allows them to attend your Outdoor Cinema Event.

Choosing an evening time will be your best bet.

6. Choose The Film You Want To Screen

The crux of your Outdoor Cinema Screening Event is the Film you are screening! The film you choose will set the mood for the event and will be the centre of the event.

If you want a mass audience to attend your Outdoor Film Screening Event, you want to choose a film that appeals to a mass audience, so your typical Superhero Movies, James Bond Movies and Classics you know will be enjoyed by a mass audience.

If you’re looking for a niche audience to attend your Film Screening Event, why not go for an independent film to support up and coming filmmakers?

Remember, the audience in attendance to your event may limit the types of films you can screen due to age ratings and restrictions: if you are accepting guests of any age, beware of the age rating of the film you are screening!

Consider how the genre of your film choice will impact your film screening event; do you want a spooky, sinister atmosphere? Choose a film such as ‘Get Out’ or ‘Halloween’. If you’re after a fun, friendly environment for the whole family to enjoy, why not choose a classic such as ‘Toy Story’ or ‘The Incredibles’? Remember the audience that is attending your event.

6.1. Get Permission To Screen Your Chosen Film at your Outdoor Cinema Event

Once you have chosen a film to screen at your Outdoor Cinema Event, you will likely need to apply for a license to show the film to an audience.

Ensure you have the right to show your movie in advance to avoid any disappointment. Contact the distributor of your Film and get in contact to obtain the correct distribution rights to show the film.

7. Test Your Outdoor Cinema Equipment

Imagine this scenario: all of your guests have arrived at your event and are now being seated, ready to watch the film. Your projector is not working.

You don’t want to make this scenario a possibility!

That’s why it is so important to test your equipment thoroughly.

Prior to guests arriving at your event, thoroughly test your projector and speaker set-up. Play the entire film from start to finish and ensure it can do this with no hiccups.

This will take a huge weight from your shoulders and you can go on to worrying about the other aspects of your event!

We always recommend booking experienced specialists to set-up your equipment to ensure there are no hiccups with your technical set-up.

Drive In Cinema Hire available for Outdoor Events in the UK.
Drive In Cinema Hire available for Outdoor Events in the UK.

8. Food and Drinks Catering

It wouldn’t be an authentic Cinema experience without Food, Snacks and Drinks for your audience. Think about providing popcorn carts, fizzy-drinks machines and more to bring the atmosphere of a cinema to your event.

Your Food and Drinks catering will be heavily affected by the audience in attendance to your event.

If your Outdoor Cinema Event is for an audience over 18 years of age, you have more flexibility with your Food and Drinks catering options. You could go wild and book a Cocktail Bar to add some more excitement to your Outdoor Cinema Event!

If you are hosting a ticketed Outdoor Cinema Event, the cost of providing catering services can be included in the cost of the tickets.

9. Be Prepared For All Circumstances

When planning your Outdoor Cinema Event, you want to give yourself enough time to plan the entire event and allow for any hiccups along the way. The earlier you plan, the better as this will take a lot of stress of trying to book things last-minute.

You also want your invitations to be sent out as early as possible so you can have a more accurate idea of how many guests will be in attendance and therefore plan accordingly.

And of course, with your Cinema Event being an Outdoor Event, you need to consider the weather. You can always go with the Weather Forecast, but this can always change last-minute, especially here in the UK.

Rain can ruin any exciting outdoor event but if you are prepared for all circumstances of weather, you can prevent this. Set up Tents, Gazebos, Umbrellas throughout your event that can be used if the Weather changes on you!

It’s also a good idea to encourage your guests to dress warmly, bring coats and even umbrellas and possibly bring a change of clothes in case the weather changes for the worse.

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