5 Out-of-the-Ordinary Movie Night Ideas

While one of the most important parts to a successful movie night is choosing a good film, the ambiance, technology and creativity that you put into a movie night transform it from run-of-the-mill to out-of-the-ordinary. In May 2013, Netflix revealed that almost 30 million streaming subscribers are using its service alone, amounting to a huge number of potential movie nights across the United States. Whether you're one of those millions or not, try one of these five out-of-the-ordinary ideas to spice up your typical movie night.

Hosting an Outdoor Screening

An outdoor screening quickly makes a movie night out-of-the-ordinary, just by virtue of watching a movie in the great outdoors. You can invite more guests than usual—depending on the size of the hosting location—though check the weather beforehand as rain can create a soggy movie night instead of an extraordinary one. While the weather is important, the right technology is just as essential. Look for a projector that features at least 2,000 lumens or more to provide a suitable level of brightness for your film. In general, the higher the lumens, the brighter the picture on the screen. Verify that your projector can project in high-definition and includes HDMI connectivity to enable you to project your movies with the same visual clarity you get on your HDTV. For a screen, any light material works well—whether it's a large white sheet or a professionally made screen—or else you risk darkening the image.

Theme Night

You can introduce the concept of a theme to your movie night using a few different methods. The most obvious and easiest choice is to select movies that all correspond to one central idea. For example, create a "classic horror night" by screening older horror films or an "explosion night" by focusing on action flicks. Incorporate food and drinks into the mix that mesh with your chosen theme. For a classic horror night, serve blood-red drinks and creepy snacks, like severed-limb-shaped hors d'oeuvres. Making sure you have the right appliances in the kitchen helps ensure that your snacks and drinks come out just right. For example, using a microwave with at least 1.7 cubic feet of space and over 1,000 watts enables you to prepare large dishes, perfect for serving a large number of guests at once.

Indoor Theater

An indoor theater gives your guests all the advantages of a movie theater without the disadvantages. For an ideal movie theater setup, having the proper setup is essential . Above all else, a Blu-ray player, along with the Blu-ray disc for each movie, enables you to display movies with the same visual clarity you get on the big screen. For sound, consider a 7.1 surround sound setup to mimic the common setup in a theater. Take into account the size of your television as well: the bigger the screen, such as a 60-inch class HDTV, the more of a theater experience your guests will have. However, keep in mind that bigger isn't always better; it's best to match the screen size of the TV to your viewing distance from it. For example, if you plan to sit 10 feet away from the television, consider about a 40-inch screen size for optimal viewing quality. Go all out with a television capable of 3D viewing to truly complete the indoor theater experience.


Souvenirs can transform an ordinary movie night into something memorable. You can use souvenirs to enhance your chosen theme or to create an out-of-the-ordinary movie night on their own. A faux movie ticket, complete with the time, location and movie shown, provides your guests with a keepsake. Choose the right printer to make your movie tickets stand out. Look for a printer with a high DPI; the higher the DPI, the better the printed image appears. Creating a gift basket themed to a particular movie is another way to make your movie night special. For example, a horror-themed gift basket could include small horror props, or perhaps the book that inspired the film.

Create Your Own Film Festival

Creating your own at-home film festival opens your guests’ eyes to movies they are not familiar with. Tony Armer, Executive Director of the Sunscreen Film Festival, states that a successful at-home film festival will show films "in a genre or style that you know you and your at-home audience of friends and family will find appealing. A family group with young kids probably doesn't want to do a gritty 1970's horror fest." Armer also notes that building a film festival on a specific set of criteria is one of the most important parts to creating a successful film festival feel, recommending themes such as the "genre, time period, [and] who stars in [the films]." In terms of technology, Armer claims that "sound is often overlooked and is one of the most important aspects of film. A great sound system and the ability to watch the films in HD, whether via Blu-ray or [a streaming service]" is also key to success. On a smart television, you can stream movies directly on the television using built-in applications, giving you quick access to a variety of independent films.

Photo Credits: Pamela Follett/Demand Media

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