The best movies for family movie night are all right here! Check out this no-fail way to pick the best films for backyard or outdoor movie nights (plus some of our top suggestions). Perfect for people of all ages — kids, adults, and in-between!
Did you catch our move night post with all of our outdoor movie night resources?! I’m weirdly passionate about movie night in our backyard. It’s become a serious tradition at our house and in our neighborhood!
Seriously, we’re known far and wide as the “move night house,” and those sweet days of late summer when all of our friends come over and hang out in our backyard or our DIY patio are some of my favorite.
Because we talked here about everything from our favorite projector to the best popcorn machine, now I thought we’d chat about how we choose the best movies for family movie night.
How we Choose Movies for Family Movie Night
At this point, we have a few criteria when we choose movies for outdoor (or indoor) movie night. It’s important to me whether it’s just the four of us watching, or whether we have a whole crowd.
Things to Consider
Know Your Crowd. Firstly, you have to know who this movie night is for! Our lives are currently filled with toddlers and little kids, so we always try to find movies that will be entertaining to kids and adults.
Running Time. I also like to keep any film that we choose under a running time of two hours. I feel like an hour and a half or an hour and forty five minutes is the sweet spot.
Any longer and we have found that the crowd thins out, or kiddos fall asleep, or it gets cold or uncomfortable.
The last thing that I consider when I’m choosing films is that they’re appropriate for little ears — no major profanity or violence.
Diversity. I admit that a couple of years ago, this wasn’t part of our consideration, and that embarrasses me. But when we know better we do better.
So now we make sure that we are showcasing diversity in lots of ways, whether that means actors or directors of color, movies from other cultures, or storylines that educate us.
Time of Year. It’s also fun to think seasonally! We often have movie nights in late summer or early fall, when it’s a little cooler in California.
So we always incorporate one Halloween-themed movie into our list. Each season of movie nights also always has at least one Pixar or Disney movie, and a musical.
Try a Series. We’ve screened one Star Wars film every year, working our way through the original trilogy.
If there’s something similar that your family or friends love, consider making it an annual thing and working through a series of films. It’s a fun way to organize it!
Family Movie Night Ideas To Get You Thinking
This will be our sixth movie night season, so we’re keeping track of what we’ve shown in the past, along with ideas for the future.
These have been some of the best movies for family movie night. See below for all of the films we’ve shown to get ideas for your next backyard film fest!
The Greatest Showman
The Lego Movie
The Princess Bride
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Raya and the Last Dragon
Back to the Future
Muppets Take Manhattan
Night at the Museum
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Spelling the Dream
FAMILY HOLIDAY MOVIE IDEAS
Muppets Christmas Carol
Charlie Brown Christmas
A Christmas Story
FOR OLDER KIDS
Ferris Beullers Day Off
A Ballerina’s Tale
Pirates of the Carribbean
That Thing You Do
A League of Their Own
A Wrinkle In Time
Play the Best Movies for Family Movie Night Outside (or Inside)!
So that should give you a ton of ideas for your next movie night (or your movie nights for the next few weeks at least)!
It sounds silly, but we truly put a ton of thought into the movies we choose to make sure that people really enjoy their time.
It’s become such a special tradition to our family and friends, and there’s just something so magical about it.
Head over to this post to read all about our backyard movie night setup. We share info on the best projector, speakers, snacks, timeline, food, and lots more.
I know that years from now, I’ll think back to these nights of barefoot kiddos all piled on blankets, and twinkle lights on our patio, and dads nursing beers while moms chat in the back, and I’ll miss them so much. These are the days!
Have you ever been to an outdoor movie night? Or hosted one? Do you love them as much as we do? xoxo
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9 thoughts on “How to Pick the Best Movies for Family Movie Night”
Might I suggest adding The Goonies to your list!
Such a good one!
I just hosted a 90s Disney Themed party and we screened A Goofy Movie in the backyard. It was perfect! The perfect length, good sing-along opportunities, and some awesome 90s nostalgia 🙂 I can’t wait to host another movie night! It does sound fun to snuggle up by the fire pit for an Xmas movie night!
Ahhhhh that’s such a good one! xo