Movie Licensing Tips for Outdoor Theaters

Nothing says spring or summer like an outdoor movie night. Accelerated by gathering restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, drive-in theaters and outdoor movie events are becoming an increasingly popular type of entertainment.  We have previously covered several things to consider when putting together a DIY Drive-In Theater, and one of the primary considerations is licensing. Unless you are hosting a private movie viewing in your home or backyard, you will need to obtain a license for any movie that you show. This article covers the basics of the movie licensing process.

Outdoor projector screen

Determine your licensing needs

Aside from private home gatherings, a movie license will be required anytime you show a movie to a group of people. If you’re planning to charge an admission fee at your event, the amount you’re required to pay for the license may change. You will likely be asked what market you are catering to such as, college campuses, parks, drive-in theaters, restaurants, campgrounds, churches or any other public setting.

Choose a Movie

Licenses are typically purchased on a per-movie request so it will be important to plan out what film(s) you plan to show. Keep in mind that, in most cases, the newer the movie, the higher the price of the license. The cost of licensing fees is often based on the type of facility, size of the audience and the anticipated frequency of showings. Plan on a minimum of about $350 – $900.

Plan ahead

It could take up to several weeks to acquire a licensed copy of the movie so be sure to start this process early. You may be able to expedite this process by working directly with a licensing agent. Organizations like Swank Motion Pictures exist to help businesses just like yours with licensing needs.

Set up

You’ll need to purchase and set up your projector, sound system and screen prior to the event. If you need help deciding which projector to purchase, the article “Five Things to Consider When Picking a Projector” is a great guide. For the best supersized outdoor projector screen materials and indoor materials for your large venue, check out these options from Carl’s Place. For a ready to assemble option, don’t miss the large venue hanging kit. Make sure to do a test run of the movie with your equipment so you can be sure everything is working as expected.

Enjoy the show!

Finally, sit back and enjoy your well-planned event.