Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What time can we start the movie?

A: Outdoor movies start at dusk (the end of civil twilight).  Here in Seattle, dusk falls around 9:30pm in July and 9:00pm in August. You can determine the exact time dusk will occur using the Navy’s Sun and Moon Data for One Day web page. “End Civil Twilight” is the when the sky becomes dark and outdoor movies look their best! It is sometimes possible to start outdoor movies a few minutes before dusk, but light from the sky tends to wash out the picture.

Q: What movies can you show?

A: You may use Seattle Starlight Cinema’s services to exhibit most movies that are available on home video formats such as DVD or Blu-Ray disc. Movies that are still in theaters or not available on home video may not be shown.

Q: Can we play music on your sound system while we’re waiting for it to get dark?

A: Absolutely! If you have an iPod or other music player you can plug it right into our system to have some tunes going before your event.

Q: What time will you arrive to set up?

A: We will arrive 3 hours prior to your scheduled showtime.

Q: What clothing should we recommend for our guests?

A: After the sun sets, the temperature can plunge. You should recommend that your guests bring blankets and warm clothing such as sweatshirts and sweatpants to put on after sunset — even in Summer. It’s also a good idea to recommend your guests bring camp, lawn or patio chairs to sit on.

Q: Will an outdoor movie be too loud for our neighborhood? Will it annoy the neighbors?

A: Sound travels well outside and outdoor movies can often be heard for several blocks. It is important to notify your neighbors about your outdoor movie night. Inviting them to your outdoor theater is the best way to generate good will. Otherwise, put fliers in your neighbors mailboxes with a description of what you intend to do, the hours you expect there to be noise (with a strict “no-noise after a specified time” promise) and contact information so they can call you to turn it down if necessary. Try to plan your event for a Friday or Saturday night, when people are more tolerant of noise in the evening.

Q: Are you licensed / bonded / insured?

A: Yes. If your venue requires a copy of Seattle Starlight Cinema’s Memorandum of Insurance, or any other commercial licensing documentation, please contact us.

Q: How do I reserve my date?

A: You may reserve your date by making a deposit of 1/2 the package price. The deposit is fully refundable in the case of inclement weather. To reserve your date, please contact us.

Q: What happens if it rains?

A: In the event of inclement weather, you have the choice to have your deposit refunded or to re-schedule your event. If you’re fine with watching a movie in the rain (we’ve done it!) that’s an option too. Our equipment is designed for outdoor use and can usually handle the unpredictable Seattle weather.

Q: Will the outdoor movie theater run off a standard household electrical outlet?

A: In most cases, yes. Seattle Starlight Cinema requires a standard household electrical outlet (120v/15A). The circuit should not have any other equipment or appliances plugged into it, or the breaker may trip. Seattle Starlight Cinema can provide a generator to run independently of your electrical system (or where electricity is not available) for an additional fee.

Q: Are there any limitations to the location of my movie?

The area must be accessible by vehicle. We can dolly the equipment short distances across flat terrain. If you are on a rooftop we require elevator access to the roof.

Q: Do I need an exhibition license to show a movie on Seattle Starlight Cinema’s equipment?

A: It depends. Private home performances (including movies in your back yard) do not require an exhibition license. If your venue qualifies as a non-theatrical market (see next question), you will need an exhibition license (see below).

Q: What does “Non Theatrical Market” mean?

A: Non-theatrical Market refers to all publicly performed exhibition of feature films that are shown in all educational institutions; correctional facilities; libraries; museums; government institutions; community centres; recreational facilities; hospitals and other health care facilities; shut-in institutions; common areas of apartments, condominiums, dormitories and other residential communities; retirement centres; camps; religious institutions; all manner of fraternal, benevolent and community clubs and organizations; bars; restaurants; hotels; conference facilities; business facilities; and buses and other transportation services.

Q: How much does it cost to obtain a non-theatrical performance license?

A: License fees vary depending on the movie, the number of guests, and whether or not you are charging admission. If you are not charging admission and expect less than 200 guests, exhibition fees typically hover around $300 for recent releases. It is acceptable to request donations from your guests. However, if you charge mandatory admission, expect to pay 50% of your ticket price to the licensing agency.