Movie Night On the Field

Everyone wants to get the most out of the summer weather. Muskego High School, Muskego, Wisconsin, is doing just that.

The high school is using the outdoor video board and field to host four movie nights from May to August. Movie goers sit on the turf beneath the stars, in front of a 17-feet high by 30-feet wide screen.

Admission is free, but donations to the food pantry are welcome. Activities for children and concessions are available for purchase.

Movie nights helped fulfill Muskego’s vision to change the “stadium” into a “community center.” Local businesses respected the vision and invested in it.

Student management

We asked Ryan McMillen, activities director, how students got involved with the movie night idea. “Students organized the whole thing with help from Peter Matson (Business Marketing Information Technology).”

Matson’s students from his Sports and Entertainment Marketing class organized the event as part of their event planning unit. Students selected the movie lineup, held a vote at the elementary schools to pick the order for the movies, created promotions, helped license the rights to show the movies and ran the movie night.

Students also helped create a 40-minute, pre-show that included games, trivia quizzes, “Dad jokes,” promotions for concessions, the next movie and public service announcements. All of this content was displayed on the big screen.

Choosing the right movies

With only four slots available and a wide range of student ages and interests, how do you choose which movies to show? Muskego’s sports entertainment marketing class visited the elementary schools and worked with the administration, teachers and students to figure out what interested families most.

The children’s voices drove the decision-making process. Muskego ended up with three family-themed movies and a teen-aged themed one:

  • May 17 Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • June 21 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • July 19 Moana
  • August 16 Black Panther (Teen Night)

Event Promotion

Students promoted the summer event with messages on the district’s social media platforms. Classes also designed posters to hang up at the schools. Our district’s marketing team helped the classes with communication, as well. Students planned the event out, including weather forecasts and making sure no other big event was going on that night.

Easy Set up

“No trouble at all,” says McMillan about the set up. Information Technology teacher Matson collaborated with the Daktronics team to get everything up and running. Both the May and June movies went well.


The high school estimated 200-250 people showed up for the first event in May. The second movie in June entertained approximately 100-150 attendees due to cooler weather.

Tips for others

McMillan suggests that high schools should carefully pick the dates and realize that weather can play a big role. Matson mentions that if you have artificial turf, you’ll want attendees to protect it, so have rules in place. Also, the movie license requirements and rules about promoting the event are very specific. 

Muskego is already making plans to offer their community a free monthly movie night next summer. Many families attended and taking donations for the local food pantry added a real community aspect to the event.

To those thinking about hosting movie nights, McMillan says,
”Do it now! It is a great event and your community will really appreciate it.”

Valuable information

Browse through a reservoir of ideas and specific information to help your event succeed. To discover how other high schools and venues across the nation are producing movie nights, read on!

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