EDITORIALS

Midnight Showings Don't Mean A Release Date Change!!

by
May 9, 2007

I don't know what it is, but the midnight showing additions recently have become huge (and I mean HUGE) news recently for this summer's big blockbusters. Why?! I have no clue. I'll admit right off the bat that this is a big rant on the other media outlets out there who are jumping at the idea of claiming some news story that just isn't so. Just because they add midnight, or 10PM, or 8PM the-night-before showings to a movie's opening, does NOT mean a release date change!!

What kind of reporting is this? Everyone knows one thing at least: after Star Wars Episode I came out in 1999, midnight shows are assumed to happen for major releases, especially during the summer. 300 even had midnight shows, so did Snakes on a Plane. It's a popular trend nowadays, and honestly it isn't even a trend, it's just a natural happening arranged by theaters for big openings.

First it was Spider-Man 3, which had some reports that the midnight shows meant a Thursday release date, one day early (or just sneaky, yea, very sneaky, showings of it at midnight). Next it was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End that just the other day announced 8:00PM shows (early enough so that they can play the same reel twice for the midnights, once at 8PM, then again at 12AM) and more news outlets (Deadline Hollywood, SlashFilm, CanMag) picked it up as a big release date change.

And finally today, CanMag has really hit a nerve when they went off claiming Dreamworks said Shrek 3 wouldn't change its release date, and then when 10PM shows were added, they flipped out on Dreamworks claiming that they lied. Are you kidding me?!

I don't mind them putting out a press release saying that midnight shows are available, what I mind is when everyone makes a claim that adding midnight shows means that it's an entire release date change - that's not true! A midnight show starts at 12:01AM, just like when people camped out for the PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii, which means it actually is that day. The trend started last summer of adding a 10PM show so that more people could attend it because they normally get out very late on a work/school night. Then that trend has repeated (for Shrek 3) and has extended (for Pirates 3) to fit in more shows. That means they're still midnight showings, or if you want to be a bit newsworthy, call them "sneak peels", but the release dates ARE NOT changing! Please don't report news like this anymore guys, it's just wrong.

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  • Alex, we really need to get this film fight podcast started, because we disagree a lot. An 8:00pm or 10:00pm release the day before is a release date change. Also, I know you live in a very suburban area with a lot of young people, so you get Thursday midnight screenings for most of your movies. But most towns don't do this. I remember I had to travel to Boston to see X2 at midnight. There were no midnight screenings in any the towns near me. Unless the studio promotes a midnight release, there are only a couple hundred at most around the country. Sony put Spider-Man 3 in over 1,000 theaters at midnight. That's a big difference,. Not for you, but for most people. We all dont live in Colorado Springs.
  • No man, you're wrong... A date change would mean that all the dates on the poster and on the website are switched officially, and that all 1000 movie theaters showing 4000 screens of Pirates 3 would be allowed to start showing it at 10AM that morning. 8PM and 10PM shows do NOT count as a date change, they are just extensions of midnight showings (just a few hours earlier) and if anything are sneak previews, but this is NOT a date change! C'mon, how idiotic do you have to be to overthink this?!
  • *Ding Ding Ding* Welcome to the FightCast! I'm actually in the middle. I was ok with Snakes doing a 10pm here because you could get away with saying midnight eastern time. I know it's a stretch, but it's there. The issue is that when you start screening a film at 8pm the day before release, there really isn't a leg to stand on. You've released the film a day early. Now, were Disney to advertise that there was a sneak peek screening on the day before at 8pm, they would be completely covered, but that's on the studio to do, not the theater or even people running events like us. I think it is a sneaky (and smart) way for the studio to add another showing to help the weekend numbers and build buzz. I also think we'll start seeing this more often and it's just going to take a little time for the studios to get the terminology right to cover themselves.
  • Ross
    Wow, this is intense! At my local cinema, over here in the UK, with a lot of major releases we have 'Special Previews' on a Thursday. I don't count this as a release date change myself, because there's only about 4-5 showings throughout the day, and then the Friday release will have maybe 10-15 depending on the film. There's no adverts or trailers, so i don't know if that's how it goes over where you guys are.
  • Hey Ross, We have preview screenings here too, but they're always free. Last year, you had a few films actually start selling tickets for 10 pm screenings and could in a way get away with calling them midnight films because we're 2 hours behind Eastern time. I don't think anyone would have a problem with an 8pm start time the day before if they came up with a special term for the screening. It's essentially semantics and it doesn't really matter to much from where I see things.

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