The Top 10 List of Best Movies to Watch Outside in Your Backyard on a Summer’s Night

Nothing quite beats setting up a backyard movie party on a hot summer’s night. Sitting underneath the stars with a group of great friends by your side, whilst sipping on a cool drink is one of life’s experiences. If you’ve never done it before, put it on your bucket list now!

I believe that there are some movies that just suit the outdoor experience better than most. This is my list of the best movies to watch outside so if you are looking for some inspiration, take a look at these awesome recommendations for backyard movies. Each movie’s suggestion includes reasons why I think you should watch them outdoors. All of the films here have something a little different, and there should be something for everyone.

The Goonies

People of a certain age will associate this movie with childhood memories of riding your bike with your friends, going on adventures on a hot summer day, whilst Cyndi Lauper, REO Speedwagon, and The Bangles provide a soundtrack to evoke special feelings from the 1980s. It certainly brings back those nostalgic feelings for me anyway!

In this classic 1985 movie, Chunk, Mikey, Brandon, and the gang look to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy with the evil Fratellis hot in pursuit.

Did You Know? In 2017, The Goonies film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The Blair Witch Project

The reason I love this film is that it is the perfect movie to watch when you are camping out in tents the same night. Once the movie is over, the campfire has died down and you are settling down for the night, every little sound you hear in your backyard of the garden will suddenly take on an entirely different meaning!

Not one for the kids so waits until they have gone to sleep before you watch. You might also want to consider your neighbors if they overlook your backyard!

Did You Know? Many movie-goers actually thought the actors from the film were dead, with the studio going to great lengths to keep the actors away from the press at time of release to keep the myth going!


Some movies are just better on the big screen, and none more so than Jaws. This movie started the trend for releasing summer blockbusters and works perfectly as the ideal outdoor movie film due to the complete cinematic experience it offers.

With a stunning storyline and an amazing musical score by John Williams, it is a timeless classic that people never seem to tire of watching.

Did You Know? The author of the Jaw book, Peter Benchley later became an ocean conservationist and said in interviews that he regretted writing a story that portrayed sharks in such a cold-blooded manner. 

Star Wars

Who doesn’t love Star Wars? This has to go down as one of the best backyard movies, and it’s worth watching just to see the famous opening sequence scroll up your outdoor movie screen.

Get the popcorn on the go, sit back, and watch (once again) as Luke Skywalker and his pals do battle with Darth Vader and the evil Empire.

Did You Know? The sound of the Tie Fighter space craft was created by mixing an elephant’s call with the noise of a car driving on a wet pavement. 


Something a little more modern now, with this 2017 movie release which was shot on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film stock. The Dunkirk movie offers an insane level of suspense due to the stunning cinematography and music, with a lesser reliance on dialogue.

The movie has received critical acclaim, with reviewers often stating that it is one of the greatest war films ever made.

Did You Know? The director of the movie reconditioned actual warships for the film and even spent $5 million on a vintage aircraft so as to attach it with IMAX cameras before crashing it. 

Dirty Dancing

I’ve never met a girl who doesn’t like Dirty Dancing, so if you are a man thinking about setting up a backyard movie as a date night, then perhaps this is the one to choose. Who can’t fail to be impressed by Patrick Swayze’s dancing skills?

It’s set in the 1960’s summertime and evokes memories from a golden age. If you aren’t old enough to remember those days, it’s still worth a watch. A great movie for the outdoors no matter what your age.  

Did You Know? It was nearly called “I Was a Teenage Mamba Queen” after the producers had trouble getting the film past the Canadian guards who thought it was a blue movie due to the title. 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This timeless classic has probably been watched millions of times in backyards around the globe, and there’s a reason for that: It’s brilliant!

Just like the Goonies earlier, this movie was also chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”. 

Did You Know? In order to get into character, Charlie Sheen stayed up for two days straight before playing his part of the criminal in the police station.

Despicable Me

One for the younger kids now, but honestly, adults love this film too! Watch the supervillain Gru as he plans a massive heist, all with the added complication of three orphans he didn’t really want to adopt.

There are two sequels to this movie, as well as a spin-off Minions film, meaning you can get them all lined up to watch over a series of backyard movie parties in the summer.

Did You Know? The producers wanted a way in which they could make the villain Gru more likeable, so added the incompetent Minions characters in. I think it worked! 

Back to the Future

To this day Back to the Future is still showing regularly at public outdoor movie theaters, which goes to show how well it’s stood the test of time. It’s one of the best outdoor movies to watch during the summertime, no doubt about that!

Watch as Marty McFly goes back in time, has awkward moments with his own mom, and in the end, gets back to the future with the help of the Doc and Delorean.

Did You Know? The writer of the screenplay got the idea after he found his father’s high school year book and wondered what it would have been like if they had been at school together. 

Stand By Me

This is regularly voted as one of the best ever summertime movies, transporting the viewer back to the 1950s as a gang of friends go on an adventure to find a dead body.

It works so well as a backyard movie with Rotten Tomatoes calling it a “nostalgic movie with a weird streak that captures both Stephen King’s voice and the trials of growing up.”

Did You Know? The director of the movie didn’t let the kid actors see the body until the very last moment as he wanted their look of surprise to be a realistic as possible.

Final Thoughts

These are just my recommendations, and movies that have proved very popular at the backyard movie nights I’ve run in the past. I have also put together a list of 13 romantic movies that are ideal for a backyard movie date night – check those out if love is on the agenda.

If you want to get information on how you can set up and plan the perfect night, please explore the rest of the website for ideas, and take a look at the recommended gear section which includes product recommendations on screens, projectors, and more which will suit all budgets.