Floating Cinemas: Planning Movie Night on a Boat

One of life’s great pleasures has always been going out to see a movie in a theater (although recently that's been limited due restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic). Sure, we can all watch movies on our flat-screen TVs at home, but there’s something about watching with other people, hearing everyone laugh or gasp or scream at the same time, that heightens the movie-watching experience in an unmatchable way. Even just thinking about it, the smell of buttery popcorn comes to life...

floating cinemas by beyond cinema
Photo Credit: Beyond Cinema

Now, imagine that same experience...onboard a boat.

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What are Floating Cinemas?

Amid safety and social distancing precautions brought on by COVID-19, cities and companies across the globe have found creative ways to bring what's now been coined "floating cinemas" to life. Beyond Cinema, for example, is an Australian-based company that is helping boaters worldwide to think about onboard movie nights in a whole new way, creating a "boat-in" experience. The boat-in concept is like the drive-in concept that was popular decades ago throughout the United States, only with boats instead of automobiles pulling up in unison and facing a giant screen to watch a film. Beyond Cinema's concept focused on providing consumers with a dozen or two dozen “mini-boats” that each held a maximum of eight people.

Likewise, other local companies, like The Boat House Chicago, have organized similar events promoting free boat-in movie nights open to the entire boating community. According to The Boat House, "Local boaters were encouraged to anchor [their own boats] in the no-wake zone and enjoy a socially distanced movie night 'together.'"

With more than 100 boats anchored up prior to the start of the movie, The Boat House's first-ever boat-in movie night hosted in August 2020 was a true success.

boat movie theaters
Photo Credit: The Boat House Chicago

How to Plan Your Own Movie Night Onboard

The idea of floating cinemas and boat-in movie theaters have a lot of boat owners thinking about upgrading movie nights on their own boats, too. Especially if a boat has a good-size cockpit, bow or flybridge, why not turn the space into a cinema under the stars for friends and family?

Boaters, too, can get in on the fun of buying giant outdoor screens with projectors. Sales of both have been way up since the pandemic began, according to multiple news outlets, and all kinds of brands are now available for movie-lovers wanting to create their own movie nights under the stars.

All the same gear that people are putting up in their backyards can be set up on a boat. In fact, many different retailers offer entry-level jumbo screens, projectors and soundbars at low costs that won't break the bank.

So, to set up your own movie night onboard, you'll need:

  • A Boat (if you don't own one, you can rent one!)
  • Outdoor Projector Screen
  • Projector
  • Soundbar
  • A Movie of Your Choice!

Truth be told, many motor yachts available for charter have promoted the fun of on-deck movie nights for years. It’s a truly special feeling to be out on the water, under a dark sky, eating popcorn and sharing the experience of watching a favorite film with friends or family.

And remember, if you don’t have a boat, you can still have a movie night of your own with a boat rental. Start planning with our Go Boating Today tool to find local boat rentals near you. Many rentals and peer-to-peer boat sharing options even offer the choice to hire a captain for your outing (just be sure to contact the rental agency or boat sharing company beforehand to schedule your rental and inquire about captains for hire).

While you're out on the water for your movie night, you may also find these tips useful:

At the end of the day, maybe what COVID-19 actually did was get us all to think a little harder about making that movie experience a reality, in a socially distanced place like on board our boats. Let’s take that idea for the win, and get out there and have a little fun in big-screen style.

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