When cinema was first developed, it was showman that took the concept around from village to village, fair to fair as a novelty. As cinema developed cinemas found more permanent buildings for their home, although a small dedicated number of mobile film cinemas existed. During the second world war and beyond there were mobile cinemas that entertained and educated the troops where ever they were. But mobile film cinemas require a lot of work and space to setup and run. The equipment they use is heavy and bulky and requires quite a lot of space. However new digital technology is changing all that. Digital projectors can project nearly anywhere from anywhere and there are any number of examples across the Internet where images have been projected on to the side of buildings.

Some examples from Flickr of Outdoor Cinema Screenings:

It is also noticeable that in the last few years that there has become an increasing romanticism for outdoor or open air screenings, despite the unpredictable British weather. In other countries where the climate is a little more predictable outdoor screenings have been happening for many decades. Whether this is new found interest is both a combination of the new technology available or the desire for an alternative to the standard multiplex cinema is another matter. The Time Out magazine in 2011 has for the second year published a list of the many outdoor screenings that are taking place across London.

While doing research into Outdoor screenings it has been interesting to notice the large number of websites either offering the equipment for screenings along with the number of ‘pop up’ cinema screenings which are taking place. (Pop up is the relating to the type of screens that are many used for outdoor screenings as they are inflatable screenings which are tethered down.

Having been involved with a number of outdoor screenings at various levels, I know how exciting they are, and they are more satisfying to show a film to than ‘traditional’ venues. I certainly think that we will see more and new variations of unusual cinema happening in temporary venues in the next few years.

Examples of successful mobile cinema, are the Film4 Somerset House screenings which take place each July/August each year and which sell out very quickly each year; Secret Cinema is becoming more and more influential in the alternative cinema stakes. Although cinemas have been found in everything from canal boats through to VW Campervans. The FilmAid International Charity screens educational films in the outdoors.

Below is a number of links for outdoor cinema, or screening companies so that you can either attend or run your own:

Mobile Cinema Links

  • A Solar Powered Cinema – is a micro movie house powered entirely by the Sun. We can accommodate 8 adults or 12 young people comfortably for a unique cinematic experience. We have a full library of comedy, quirky, music and environmentally themed short videos.
  • Airscreen – produce inflatable screens.
  • Arts Alive – /Flicks in the Sticks
  • BBC News – Lottery funds mobile cinema plan – plus also other related stories.
  • Bell Theatre Services Ltd. – Projection equioment suppliers in the UK. A very good website with a number of extras including Lens Calculator software. The web site also has a number of pieces of software available to download under the software section of the site.
  • Cinema Circus Mobile 35mm Set to Screen – News article about a Mobile Cinema
  • Cinéma numérique Ambulant – They use digital technology to show African films to rural audiences in Benin, Niger and Mali. They have 7 movie trucks, and intend on having more by next year, with at least one section that will be set up in Ouagadougou for the FESPACO. The website isn’t in English, but you can get a good gist of what it is all about.
  • CineMobile – ever wondered what happens to old film prints? Well this article which appeared in the
  • CineMobile – Touring Cinema Service – All shows presented in High Quality 35mm Cinema Film.
  • Cinemobile – Ireland’s first mobile cinema. The Cinemobile, one of the most adventurous projects of the National Millennium Committee, is a magnificent, state-of-the-art 100-seater mobile cinema. With over 100,000 visitors to date, the Cinemobile brings the magic of the movies to your doorstep.
  • Cinetransformer – the best tool for mobile promotions totally self-contained state-of-the-art 95-seat digital mobile cinema.
  • Community Cinemas – this is the website for the mobile cinema service based in Lancashire. There are a good selection of photographs from some of there events and a good FAQ section as well.
  • Daimler – A mobile cinema used to entertain the troops in WW1
  • Fab Film Co (London and E.Sussex) – Film Society
  • Fab Film Company – a mobile, multi-functional filmmaking and film screening organisation, who specialise in community outdoor screenings during the summer months and work with organisations and individuals to facilitate any filmmaking or screening activities.
  • FilmAid International – is a non-profit organization dedicated to using the power of film to promote health, strengthen communities, and enrich the lives of the world’s vulnerable and uprooted. Through the strategic use of film and video, FilmAid communicates life-saving information to mass audiences on critical health concerns, including HIV/AIDS
  • Filmair – Outdoor cinema and drive-in cinema screenings.
  • Filmscene U.K. – is a National Mobile Cinema, providing audiences with the Big Screen Movie experience. With a vast film library & top quality equipment, our comprehensive service is ideal for any application from village hall cinema to school fundraiser.
  • Filmshow on wheels – a news story from new York about a group of women who are planning to make a documentary detailing the little-known work of the Jamaican Mobile Cinema Unit (MCU),
  • Fresh Air Flicks – a US company which screens outside, using DVD equipment
  • Future Cinema – the company behind Secret Cinema
  • Future Projectionis Ltd – a cinema supply company based in the UK which supplies both new equipment and refurbished equipment as well.
  • Google Search – on mobile cinemas.
  • Gorilla Cinema solar powered mobile cinema – the title says it all.
  • Guerilla Ads? – – Description to Follow
  • Hot Tub Hire – yes hire a hot tub along with your outdoor cinema in Norfolk, Essex, London, Suffolk
  • Indonesia Mobile Cinema Association – Description to Follow
  • LED Billboards on the move – A story about using LED billboards
  • Leitrim County Council Mobile – Listings
  • Like Cinema – a HD Digital mobile cinema that has started visiting three communities across the south, offering 12 up to date films to each community each month!
  • Luna Cinema – provide the equipment, staff and props to run outdoor film screenings. We have created a facade that together with the screen creates an outdoor cinema theatre space.
  • M J MOVIES – mobile projection company, who has been responsible for the Stella Screen films over the 2002 summer.
  • Mobile Cinema – *** Dead link ***
  • Mobile Cinema For Lahinch and Kilrush – *** DEAD LINK **
  • Mobile Cinema in Ballinrobe – photographs of the cinema setting up
  • Mobile cinema team – brings movie magic to rural areas
  • Mobile Motion Pictures Indoor and Outdoor Cinema – based in Australia
  • Mobile Structures Resources – Loads of information on structures for Mobile Cinemas.
  • Moviola – The South and West’s Rural Multiplex is a partnership of some 50 local halls and a central management team which brings quality cinema to all parts of Dorset and Hampshire, and over the border to East Devon, South Somerset and South Wiltshire.
  • Moviola is run by a charitable company, Dorset Film Touring Ltd (Company No 5053960) which exists to provide a comprehensive rural cinema service
  • Open Air Cinema – Sells complete open air cinema kits in various sizes. They also run a community area on the site.
  • Open Air Cinema Foundation – addresses growing technological inequity by providing
  • Out Door Cinema – a site for the above, based in the US.
  • Outdoor Cinema Network – based in the US
  • Outdoor Projection Advice – This site provides general advice on putting on an outdoor cinema show.
  • Permanent mobile cinema for the Borders? – A news story about the possibility of a permanent mobile cinema in the Borders
  • Pop-up cinemas: top 10 tips for creating your own – The Guardian Blog provides a guide to creating your own pop-up cinema, whether it’s films on fridges or Cannes in a van, site-specific screenings are proving a summer hit. Here, the mavericks behind the magic tell us how to get in on the show
  • Proscreens – offers AV hire, projection screen hire and rental equipment to meet your every need. They can cater for a wide range of events. PROSCREENS also supply projectionists or AV technicians for your venue needs.
  • Purple Cinema – Professional outdoor and indoor, large-screen film & video projection installations for parties, weddings, festivals, concerts, conferences, promotional & corporate events.
  • Pyjama Pictures – Professional cinema at a venue and time of your choice, inside or out of doors. Let the screen come to you!
  • Reels on Wheels – This mobile cinema has recently launched a website. But there are also so photographs here.
  • Screen Machine Mobile Cinema – A Brief History
  • Selby District Council Portal – Description to Follow
  • Shooting People Mobile Cinema – a web blog travel log of a mobile cinema.
  • Sidewalk Cinema – takes place in Seattle, Washington and includes some pictures of the events taking place.
  • Skylight Cinema – run outdoor film screenings across Cornwall at various locations across the county.
  • SSVC – The Movie Machine – has provided and operated cinemas for the British Forces for more than 50 years. It was originally under the banner of the Army Kinema Corporation and the RAF Cinema Corporation, both of which joined forces to become the Services Kinema Corporation, or SKC
  • The Bootleg Cinema – is a group of Film-making ninja’s and an awesome bespoke double-decker bus. They believe that cinema is a powerful cohesive force; it brings everyone together, uniting us in temporal space. The Bootleg Cinema want to bring communities together with the power of cinema on the world’s first outdoor cinema fully projected against the side of the Bootleg bus.
  • The People – – available to hire
  • Theatre Maketa & Theatre Truck – The Theatre Truck was recently in London for the West End Live and was acting as a 29 seater cinema, with all the trimmings. The website doesn’t have any real pictures of the truck as a cinema, but it did look great inside (just like a cinema should!). Projection is video, but it has raked seating, and screen tabs as well.
  • Time Out list of London open air movies in 2011 – The Time Out magazine have produced for the second year a lit of the Open Air screenings happening in London through until the end of Septemebr 2011
  • Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings ltd – conversion of a Toyata Land Cruiser into a mobile cinema.,
  • UK Outdoor Screening COmpanies
  • UK Outdoor Screening Companies
  • Urbane Entertainment – based in Sheffield
  • Video Screens – Description to Follow
  • Vintage Mobile Cinema – This site is about the restoration of a 1967 Bedford SB3 mobile cinema.
  • What is the Community Cinema Group – Description to Follow
  • Where is the Nomad – A project with the Lex cinema
  • Wikipedia Article on Mobile Cinema – a brief article about mobile cinema from Wikipedia