Putting together an outdoor cinema event takes work. Whether you’re hosting a local event, outdoor movie party, movie night for work or club, or as a ticketed event in town, knowing how to organise everything will decide how successful it will be.
That’s what this post is all about. We are going to walk you through the important elements involved in running an entertaining outdoor cinema event.
1. Selecting a venue
One of the best things about running an outdoor cinema event is that you can choose any kind of venue you like. You could use the beach, a formal garden, local park, a boat, the grounds of a stately home, lakeside area, rooftop terrace, village green, or anywhere that has enough open and level ground to set up.
Different venues lend themselves best to different audiences. For example, a beach would be ideal for younger audiences, a formal garden for more mature audiences. Parks and lakes would suit a wide range of audiences. Knowing who will be attending will influence venue choice significantly.
Venue choice will also be influenced by budget. Hosting an event in a bar or rooftop terrace could cost anything from £150 to £2,000 per hour. A park can be hired from the council on an hourly or daily basis. Boats and formal gardens are the same.
Tip: You can browse open-air venues and prices in London to find a suitable spot.
2. Setting a date
The time of year you’re planning to host your outdoor cinema event can also influence the venue. Some gardens won’t be open or suitable out of season while the beach will be cold in December. Make sure you know what the venue will look and feel like at the time of year and whether you will need to arrange heating, seating, or cooling.
The date will also influence attendance. Weekends would be best for the widest demographic and ease of attendance but weekday evenings can work in city or urban areas. It depends entirely on your audience.
3. Arranging equipment
The equipment you need for your event depends on the scale you’re working with. For a family get-together or outdoor movie party, your needs might be modest. If you’re thinking big, you will need more equipment.
At the very least, a movie event will need a large screen, projector, sound system, power, lights, and people to run the equipment. You may also need seating, ticket staff, and maybe even a compere.
Tip: Have a look at Skylight Cinema for an idea of hire prices. These start from £895 + VAT.
If you are planning a ticketed cinema event, you’re going to need a way to manage and sell tickets. You can do this yourself by printing and selling tickets or use an online portal to handle it for you.
Platforms such as Billetto can manage the ticketing side of event planning, allowing you to concentrate on the other arrangements you need to make.
5. Movie selection
Movie selection is arguably the second most important decision you will make. Selecting what film to show will be influenced by the target audience. Whether you’re looking to attract families, couples, older, younger, or a mix of everyone will influence the film(s) you show.
Movie theme nights work well but so does showing new releases in areas without a permanent cinema. Classics or black-and-white movies all work well within their own context.
Showing films outside a permanent cinema requires both film copyright licensing and premises licensing, so make sure you secure the paperwork as well as the movie.
There are companies out there that can provide fully licensed movies for public display. They tend to charge according to audience size and whether an event is ticketed or not. Prices range from £100 per screening for up to 200 people or 35% of the ticket price for ticketed events.
Tip: Get an idea of pricing for your audience size from MPLC.
6. Event safety and security
Event safety and security becomes a consideration whenever you plan an event for significant numbers or when you charge admission. This is a huge and complicated subject so rather than skim over it here, take a look at the detailed guides below for in-depth information:
- Running an event safely (Health and Safety Executive)
- How to create a risk assessment
- Event insurance: Everything you need to know
Catering may not be a consideration if you’re planning a small-scale movie party. But if you’re looking at a full outdoor movie event, you want to keep the crowd fed and watered. While popcorn is the food of choice for the cinema, you have the freedom to offer so much more. You could use food trucks, mobile vendors, BBQs, traditional hot dogs and burgers, or something completely different.
Tip: Check out popular food vans for hire.
Take it outside.
You now have the steps for planning and hosting your very own outdoor cinema event. Follow this guide to make your event a success. Good luck!
Author: Lorne Armstrong is the Commercial Director at Event Academy, an event management course provider based in Islington, London. He is an experienced facilitator of groups from 3 to 3,000 and has hosted and MC’d at countless events and conferences over the past 20 years.