How to have the perfect cinema night at home: from premium popcorn to garden screens

Make streaming films on your laptop a thing of the past this awards season

Backyard Cinema Project brings the big screen to your garden. Photo: Backyard Cinema Project
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We’re smack bang in the middle of awards season. In years gone by, the only way to watch a nominated film was with a trip to the cinema. While you may want to make your way down to your local movie theatre to see Encanto or West Side Story, you can now also watch some nominated films, including The Power of the Dog, The Tender Bar and Tick, Tick … Boom!, from the comfort of your own home via streaming sites.

But it's time to elevate your living room cinema night game – not only to keep up with the Joneses over on Instagram, but to bring some real movie magic into your home.

Films deserve as big a screen as you can give them

First things first, stop streaming premium content on your laptop or tablet. Films that are Academy Award shoo ins deserve more than a 35cm screen.

If you have a smart TV, you’ll be able to sync your Netflix, OSN Streaming and Amazon Prime apps, which means you’ll be able to stream films on the widescreen. If you don’t have a smart TV, Apple TV devices allow you to connect to all of the major streaming services, including Apple TV+, of course, as well as mirror Apple product screens, so you can watch content directly from your phone or laptop. Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Sticks work similarly and are Android compatible.

Once you have everything synced up, the only things left to do is decide what to eat and what to watch (which we all know is the most difficult part).

Upgrade your snack game

Handout of Garrett Popcorn. Courtesy of Garrett Popcorn *** Local Caption ***  Pistachio CaramelCrisp, Dubai Skyline Tin.jpg

UAE cinemas have raised the bar when it comes to premium foodie experiences, thanks to Vox Cinemas' Theatre experience and Reel Dine-In. If you’re enjoying a movie at home, the culinary world is your oyster – you could tuck into a full roast dinner or sushi feast from the comfort of your sofa.

However, if you want to stick to traditional snacks, and microwave popcorn isn’t cutting it, order some in. Vox Cinemas delivers an extensive menu of popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, drinks and burgers across the UAE via Deliveroo.

Alternatively, make your way to Candylicious stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and pick up some premium Garrett Popcorn from Dh40. The flavours include everything from classic butter, cheese and caramel crisp, to truffle, macadamia nut and caramel cashew nut. It also comes in reusable tins.

You could also go a step further and buy a popcorn-maker. These are available on Amazon from Dh50, or you can spend up to Dh2,000 for a vintage-style cart, if your budget allows.

Take the film outdoors

A Backyard Cinema Project set-up in a Dubai garden. Photo: Backyard Cinema Project

Rainy days are few and far between in the UAE, making an al fresco cinema night a sure bet. For special occasions, outsource the set-up from the Backyard Cinema Project. It costs from Dh1,200 to rent equipment and it caters to the whole of the UAE.

The Dubai-founded company brings the full movie experience to you, with a giant screen, projector, theatre-style red carpet, velvet curtain and ropes, beanbags, blankets and popcorn.

The company was launched by Hollie Allen during the pandemic when she and her husband were “trying to think of activities ... that were Covid-safe.”

“We started looking for drive-in cinemas, but we couldn’t really find any and then we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a cinema in our garden’,” Allen tells The National. “So we started looking around for companies that could come and set up in our garden, but again, none of them really sparked much joy.

“As a family we already used a projector in our home for movie nights, so we thought there is definitely a market for this here, a company that specialises in cinemas and doesn’t just bring a pop-up screen to the house,” she says. “We got to work sourcing and putting together how we wanted it to be … We both worked hard to make sure it created magic and that it created a little bit of happiness for families in such a scary and trying time.”

Allen says that home cinema set-ups are booked for everything from family movie nights to children’s parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, sports nights and Christmas movie nights.

Play an award nominated movie at home

Take your pick of movie night flicks from our list of Golden Globe-nominated films that you can stream at home:

'Don't Look Up', starring Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, is available to stream on Netflix. Photo: Netflix
Updated: January 28, 2022, 7:28 AM