I remember in my hometown of La Salle -Peru, Illinois. My parents would let me stay out late if I was at the movie theater. Little did they know how much I would misbehave. A way to spend a little money on my sweetheart or an excuse to just have a party.
The theater’s in the Illinois valley are cashing in on the Hollywood blockbusters Restaurants and Theater’s love it ! Yes, it does help the local economy. Dinner and a movie goes together and the bar’s love it too ! It gives the movie goer a way to escape the reality of life ( even if for a couple of hours ) and just have fun. Now I can find out what’s going on with a click.
In the ” old day’s ” my Uncle ( Shmoo ) who ran the projectors at the Peru Theater would sneak me in so I could get my thrill for the night. Sometimes I even got popcorn.
I recall the ” The Rocky Horror Picture Show “. That was not the beginning of the midnight movies. Back in the 1930s exploitation films started midnight screenings. It was part of a Independent promotion. In 1957 The ” Curse of Frankenstein ” created the get scared at midnight theme. A few years earlier in 1953 TV got involved with late night movies.
The Screen Actors Guild agreed to let TV show B movies on late night. This started generating income for non productive TV time. By 1954 the TV industry started hiring off the wall people to host the shows. Their offbeat personality created more excitement than the movie itself. It became the thing to do on Saturday night. They started another movement, a cheap date night where you could drink beer and eat popcorn or a reason to just have a party.
Theater’s kept capitalizing on the midnight movie. It was their way to sell more popcorn and make money on the normally empty theatre. It worked, the movie houses started to bring in new income. Hollywood was happy because it was making a profit on the loosing films that were going unwatched while sleeping in the can. Between the theatre and TV everyone was happy.
In the 1960s Elvira came on the Scene showing a beautiful body and no personalty. Her movies were grade-z . Bad movies with insane commentary. The fan’s loved it and laughed with her at the no sense movies. It was almost like a Cult Film audience. In the 1980s the midnight movies started to die off. Which started the next phase with pay TV movies.
Radio Stations saw this as an opportunity to promote their celebrity Disk Jockeys. They started to host the midnight shows so their followers could see them in person. Their thought was to stay connected to the fan’s of the radio station. The “do not change your radio dial plan.” The wanted to keep that dedicated listener.
This tradition continues today with some of the biggest blockbusters having their debut at 12:01 a.m. . Their PR campaign is genius. Reporters normally not working at midnight write about 1000s of people standing in line to see Harry Potter around the world. Their lead story is always ” How many tickets were sold weekend “. Eclipse recently broke all records with $30 million in ticket sales at the midnight showing and that did not include candy and popcorn.