RealManage Insight

How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night in Your HOA

by Daneen Reinke on Apr 11, 2019 8:12:00 AM

An outdoor movie night is a great way to bring your community together for a night of fun under the stars. Planning the set-up well in advance will help the evening come together without a hitch. Here are several factors to consider for an outdoor movie night in your HOA:


Showing a movie on a large scale in an outdoor setting requires four things:

  • A DVD player
  • A projector
  • External speakers
  • White screen

There's no need to buy expensive equipment for the event. One of your members may own a projector and a white sheet makes for a useful white screen. 

Be sure to set-up the equipment before the event and do a test run to ensure the sound and project are working correctly. This will prevent young audience members from becoming restless in the event of technical difficulties. 


When choosing a location for your outdoor movie night, consider logistical factors like seating. A large, open area that can accommodate the expected crowd comfortably is a must. Remind members to bring chairs or blankets. Encourage members to choose their seating in such a way that it doesn't block the view of other members.

Snack Bar

Movie night just isn't complete without popcorn! Comprise a small snack committee of two-three members to help serve snacks. Consider investing or renting a popcorn machine for filling the outdoor air with the aroma of hot, buttery popcorn. 

Offer healthy snack options too, like raisins or fruit. Fill tubs with ice for bottled water, sodas, and juice. Charge a small fee for snacks to cover costs or ask members to donate items in advance of the event.

Have a set time for the snack bar so committee members can join their families and enjoy the movie. Close the snack bar shortly before the movie starts.

Rain Date

Sometimes Mother Nature just doesn't cooperate. Planning an alternative date in the event of weather, like a summer storm, is a good idea for not disappointing your audience and for keeping everyone safe.

Movie Choice

Perhaps the most challenging task of an outdoor movie night for your HOA is choosing a movie. To appeal to an audience of all ages, something family-friendly is a great choice. No matter what movie you choose to show, there are legal ramifications to consider.

Anyone who shows a movie outside of a private residence is subject to copyright and trademark licensing fees. Title 17 of the U.S. Code protects copyrighted works. Violations of the act can result in hefty fines, with some as high as $150,000.

HOAs planning an outdoor movie night will need to purchase a license in order to show the movie. It does not matter if there is a fee to watch the movie or a movie is a free event. The association can purchase an umbrella policy that covers a broad spectrum of licensed content.

When in doubt, it is best to ask the association attorney for guidance and to research the best license policy for your plans. One thing is for certain: It isn't worth the risk of expensive fines to show a movie without a license. 

About RealManage

Community events are important for creating a thriving HOA. An outdoor movie night is relaxing, an opportunity to chat with neighbors, and helps members avoid long lines at crowded theaters.

RealManage provides management services for HOAs and condo associations. Our professional team provides the support boards need in order to have peace-of-mind about the membership they represent.

Managing an HOA is often complex and challenging due to unexpected issues—like that of obtaining a license to show a movie. To learn more about RealManage and our services, contact us today.

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