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Carry your own drive-in theater with this collapsible, car-mounted movie screen

Getting the family in the car and heading off to the drive-in to catch a movie might seem downright archaic in our 21st-Century, Netflix-dominated lives. But if Salt Lake City-based inventor Joe Livingston of Hitch Theaters has his way, drive-in movies might soon make a glorious comeback — on the back of your car.

Livingston’s portable projection screen, the Hitch Theater, can be set up using the hitch on your truck (thus the name), and a projector stand which is placed on the roof of the truck and projected onto the screen. Don’t have a trailer hitch/ enough room in the truck bed for everybody? No problem: Hitch Theaters also sells a projector mount and screen mount that allow you to set it up just about anywhere.

Livingston says the idea came to him during –no surprise– a date. “I had taken her to star gaze one night, several miles out of town and we decided to pull out my laptop and watch a movie under the stars,” he told Digital Trends. From there he began to wonder why he couldn’t just bring a television to do it, and it came to him — a portable drive in. “The light above my head went on and I realized I was onto something,” he said.

Hitch Theaters Kickstarter

Everything in the entire kit (the frame, the guylines, the screen, etc) folds down into a neat little package when its not in use — which Hitch Theaters hopes to use as a selling point. “It packs down into a bag that is about four feet long by 13 inches wide, and 6 inches high,” Livingston said. “That’s about the size of a larger foldable camping chair, and small enough to store into the trunk of a car.” 

Right now the Hitch Theater only exists in prototype form, but Livingston has recently taken the idea to Kickstarter, where he hopes to raise $220,000 to pay for the initial manufacture of the first setups. He says the development of Hitch Theaters is already complete, and just the logistics of actually getting this into production form is what’s left.

That’s estimated to take around six months or so, although he has hopes to get the product out sooner, and an official commercial release shortly after. That might be a bit of a challenge though: as of Tuesday afternoon, he had only about $1,400 with 16 days left to go in the campaign, far from the $220,000 he needs.

If Hitch Theaters does end up receiving the funding, the estimated retail price for both the screen and stand and the projector stand would be somewhere around $380-450 depending on the stands bought, Livingston tells us. That doesn’t seem like too bad of a price considering screens themselves can retail for close to that once everything is set and done.

At 122 inches diagonally, the screen itself is quite large, and the rooftop stands at just over a foot tall. For those that require a non-hitch setup, the screen can be set up with a freestanding mount, along with an adjustable-height projector stand that can extend between 3.5 and 10 feet.

If you think this is a cool idea, head on over to Kickstarter and help fund the project. Of course, the normal risks apply as with any other crowdfunding project, but do keep in mind you’ll need to cough up at least $330 to get everything you need.

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Ed Oswald
For fifteen years, Ed has written about the latest and greatest in gadgets and technology trends. At Digital Trends, he's…
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