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Build A Drive In Movie Theater

Due to the social distancing imposed by the COVID-19 epidemic, drive-ins are presented as a good leisure alternative to festivals or open-air cinemas in parks and beaches this summer. Build a drive in movie theater, We are, without a doubt, before the return of a classic.

In countries such as Germany, Iran, South Korea or the United States, the coronavirus crisis is making the drive-in craze resurface with great force.

Drive-in (also called drive-in theater , drive-in theater , drive-in cinema, or cine-car) is a form of cinema consisting of a large outdoor screen, a movie projector, a cafeteria bar, and a large parking area. for automobiles, from which to witness the projection.

Drive-ins were very fashionable in the 80s, but little by little conventional cinemas and now streaming platforms have made almost all of them disappear. In Spain, half a dozen of them still work permanently.

For a City Hall, a shopping center or a leisure complex that has an outdoor area with the capacity to accommodate a large number of cars, organizing a drive-in theater can be an excellent option.


Projection screens

Use a billboard with a white background.

A wall painted white. In both cases, it is important that the paint applied is adequate to offer the appropriate gain in brightness, contrast and image quality.

Inflatable screens. They have the advantage of being able to be installed and deployed in any location in a short time, as well as allowing their mobility.

Use existing stages or orchestra trucks with a white background canvas or screen to project onto.

Use large format LED screens. The quality will largely depend on the point of the panel.

The size of the screen will be conditioned by the number of cars admitted to the venue. Later we will see the recommended minimum dimensions.

The projection will be carried out using laser projectors or rear projection when the screen allows it. The only downside to projecting outdoors and outdoors is that it needs to be done during the hours when the sunlight is gone, for the optimal viewing experience. Build a drive in movie theater, This nature of movie viewing in drive-ins makes them very suitable for sessions during the afternoons or at night, when the absence of light allows the screen to be seen properly.

The use of high-brightness LED screens offers the enormous advantage of being able to be used at any time, whether day or night. On the contrary, its disadvantage resides in that its assembly and installation is expensive if they want to be used for short-term events.



The recommended projectors for drive-ins are laser technology , with a brightness of at least 10,000 ANSI lumens, with 15,000 or 20,000 lumens being recommended for larger screen formats.

For example, for a drive-in with a 7.23 meter screen, a minimum 4,700 lumens laser projector is required, although it is highly recommended to exceed that value.

Lumens (in English, lumens ) are the magnitude of brightness that a projector offers. Technically speaking, an illumination level of 1 lux equals 1 lumen per square meter .

The luminosity will depend on the necessary projection distance according to the dimensions of the screen on which it will be projected.

In addition to good brightness, we have to take care of the contrast, that is, the closest possible approximation to the pure white and pure black reflected by the screen, and which will be determined by both the projector lens and the screen material.

Finally, it will be necessary to ensure a good image definition (or resolution), which consists of obtaining a sufficient level of image detail to avoid fuzzy shapes and edges.

Build A Drive In Movie Theater

Build A Drive In Movie Theater

As for the minimum resolution, it should be Full HD (1080), although on a giant screen a resolution of 2K or even 4K is recommended if you want to offer the best definition when the native quality of the filming allows it. Build a drive in movie theater, The resolution depends on the quality of the original video recording and we have to ensure that it does not suffer loss in the projection.

The distance from the projector to the screen and the size of the screen are indicated in the specifications and tables that accompany each projector. However, you can calculate it from the ratio of the lens, or the conversion factor of the projector’s optics. To do this, you can use the following formulas:

  • Lens ratio = Distance to the projector / Screen size
  • Distance to the projector = Screen size × Lens ratio
  • Screen size = Distance to the projector / Lens ratio


Ask us and we will advise you on the wide range of options available in projectors. Use the form above or call us by phone.



The sound of the film is an aspect that is taken care of a lot in the exhibition halls, which usually have speaker systems that create an enveloping environment that helps us to immerse ourselves in the projection. Cinematographic productions themselves also strive to ensure that the quality of the audio enhances the filming, since it plays as fundamental a role as the image.

However, this aspect is unnecessarily neglected when we talk about drive-in movies, since it is not appropriate to install the same immersive audio systems in the venue.

The transmission of the audio of the film is carried out using an FM transmitter whose signal is tuned from the radio receiver of each car, with very different qualities. Build a drive in movie theater, On occasion, some drive-ins converts the sound of the film to monophonic quality, thus losing its charm and the intentionality that the filmmaker and sound engineers put into creating the work.

Today, all FM receivers in cars offer stereo quality, and many of them can reproduce it in hi-fi systems. So there is no point in sacrificing sound quality. There is no need for it. On the contrary, it is advisable to maximize the quality that an FM transmission can offer by incorporating a good DSP audio processor, once the original sound format has been converted to stereophonic format.

First of all, an FM transmitter with a built-in stereo generator is required for stereo transmission.


The maximum recommended power for transmission within a drive-in enclosure is approximately 5 watts.

The final sound quality will depend on the quality of the transmitter and, as we mentioned before, on the use of a specific audio processor for FM. Some transmitters (such as those that we will indicate later) already integrate that processor.

Good coverage, without interference or annoying tuning artifacts, will largely depend on the location of the transmitter antenna. For this reason, we recommend placing it on a high part with respect to the vehicles, either on the projection tower or on the screen structure, depending on the location chosen for the film player next to the projector.

Logically, in addition to the car radios, the sound of the film can also be followed from any other portable FM receiver. And thanks to high quality when a good transmitter with an audio processor allows it, it would even be possible to improve the listening experience using headphones, which can simulate the immersive experience of a room, added to the comfort of the vehicle.


Film broadcasting rights

The rights to broadcast the film are managed with the corresponding audiovisual distributors. You must pay the screening fee, as well as the corresponding copyright. Build a drive in movie theater, The amount will depend on the projected work and the number of broadcasts, as well as the capacity of viewers of each drive-in theater.


Recommended dimensions for the screen

The bottom of the screen in a drive-in movie theater should be at least 2 meters above the ground, although a higher height may be advisable.

The optimal size of the screen will depend to a large extent on the number of spectators that we want to host in the venue. However, as we will see below, screens of much larger dimensions are required for drive-ins than we would use in any other type of open-air cinema.

Please stay tuned to our website megaoutdoormovies to get the latest and exciting posts!

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