A devoted reader named Sarah e-mailed me to ask the following.
I have a movie business-related question. Midnight showings of popular movies have been happening for years, but I thought it was very interesting that Pirates 3 started its showings as early as 8 p.m. on Thursday. I’d never seen a movie open like that before, so I suppose my question is: What is the reasoning behind that? Is it to purposely inflate the movie’s box office earnings and break records for opening day gross? Is it to create even more buzz for the film? (Not like Pirates really needs it, in my opinion.) I mean, it seems like once you start giving special showings of the movie at 8 o’clock, why not move the time back even further to 6 o’clock or whatever? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a definitive release date at all?
You ask excellent questions, Sarah, and that kind of common-sense approach is why you could never make it in Hollywood.
You’re right that midnight “sneak previews” for big releases have been common enough for years. Ten o’clock screenings are not unheard of, either; I remember seeing “Batman Returns” that way in Los Angeles all the way back in 1992.
But if a film opens on Friday, May 25, yet has screenings (they don’t even bother calling them “sneak previews” anymore) as early as 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, then doesn’t that mean May 24 is the real opening date?