8 Top Tips for Outdoor Cinema Success


Whether on board a boat or at a local park, Outdoor Cinema is a fun and innovative way to spend time with friends. Increasing in popularity over the last five years, these events can also make a healthy profit for organisers.

Here at Skylight, we have spent over 17 years providing screens, projection and equipment to top brands and private organisers across the UK. All of this experience means we know a fair bit about what makes a screening both special and profitable.
 
So, here are our eight top tips on how to make your Outdoor Cinema event a success.
 

1) Pick a location to impress
 It’s all about location. We’ve seen screenings take place in stately homes, on beaches, or even in the great British countryside. Have a think about your audience and who you want to engage, then work out the best place to ‘wow’ them.
 
Image: A screening of Titanic on a ferry in Cornwall, moored in the middle of the river.
 

2) Choose your film wisely
 It may sound obvious, but the film you choose sets the tone for the whole event. If you are solely looking to make profit, it’s best to pick something that will please a wide range of people. We also recommend picking a film with a strong theme, giving you the freedom to get creative when coming up with the concept for your event.
 
Image: The Blair Witch Project screened in the middle of a spooky forest, entered down a candlelit woodland path.
 

3) Serve food and drink
 Everyone loves some good grub when watching a film, making it another great revenue stream if done well. We normally suggest taking a 20% commission on food and drink, which soon adds up if you have several hundred people attending and a group of supportive local suppliers.
 
Image: With a ticket cost of £35, customers enjoyed some free nibbles before the film started.
 

4) Add the finishing touches
 To make it an event to remember, why not arrange some extra special features such as live acts, music or face painting. You could also arrange a fancy dress theme based on your film of choice. It may cost a bit extra, but encourages people to get to your event earlier and spend more money on food and drink.
 
Image: We invited the audience of a Top Gun screening to come in fancy dress. The best outfit won free tickets.

5) Be prepared
 Putting on an event can be stressful, and things often don’t go to plan. We recommend giving yourself plenty of time to ensure your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed, allowing you to concentrate on your customers enjoying themselves when the day comes.
 
Image: A screening for Carlsberg in London took three days of planning and preparation for a 15-second commercial.
 

6) Think outside the box
 The great thing about Outdoor Cinema is that you can be as creative as you like with it. Sit down with your team, and come up with as many out of the box ideas that you can think of — the wilder the better. The more thought that goes into planning an event, the better experience your customers will have. This leads to the possibility of doing it more frequently and having a regular income.
 
 

7) Expect rain
 With the Great British Weather, it is always good to be prepared. Rain is all part and parcel of outdoor events, so make sure you have ponchos for sale or covered areas for your customers. If you have a bar vendor set up, you can guarantee it will be full when the rain comes.
 

8) Stick to a budget
 It’s so important to get the numbers right. We’ve put together two budgets that you can download and use as templates, to make sure you don’t come across any unexpected costs. They are based on real life events we have run ourselves, each making over £2,000 in profit.
 
  1. 8m Screen Budget: The sample budget we put together shows a profit of £2935. Follow this link to see it in full;  Outdoor-Cinema-Sample-Budget-8M.xlsx (203 downloads)
  2. 10m Screen Budget: Based on a Drive-In Event (This screen can also be used for normal Outdoor Cinema events with a seating capacity of 1500+). The profit on this event was £2175. Follow this link to see it in full;  Outdoor-Cinema-Sample-Budget-10M-Drive-In.xlsx (84 downloads)

If you would like to chat to us or a FREE no obligation quote, please contact us on 07753688043 or drop us an email to info@skylightcinema.co.uk

If you would like to read more about the outdoor cinema, download our FREE ‘Outdoor Screening Handbook’

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Comments 1

  1. Hello,
    Could you please provide some advice re an outdoor cinema which the Frome Town Rotary (part of Rotary International) are considering.

    We are looking into holding this at Victoria Park in Frome with food and drink catering and other activities to raise money for local charity.

    Thanks in advance,
    Gayle

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