I’ve written about it, posted about it and talked about it numerous times over the past seven years. But it’s worth reinforcing: one of the only positive things to come out of the horrific “Dark Knight Rises” movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO in 2012 was the elimination of Midnight showings. (This went hand-in-hand with increased security at theaters.)
There’s no need to make people wait until Midnight to see a film the night before it opens, increasing the possibility for trouble. Instead, every major studio quickly decided to move-up the start times of Thursday night showings, first to 10pm, then 9, 8 – and pretty soon 7pm became commonplace.
Some studios even got the idea to start family films at 6 and 5pm. Last year, films such as “Ocean’s 8”, “The Equalizer 2” and “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” even kicked-off their Thursday showings at 4pm. I just attended one for “Missing Link”.
And the studios all unanimously agreed that any Thursday money would be listed in headlines on Friday morning, but officially “counted” as part of Friday’s box office total.
Now, STX Films is making things a little more interesting. Their upcoming comedy “Poms”, starring Diane Keaton, will begin Thursday preview showings at an unprecedented 3pm in theaters around the country. This is the earliest confirmed start time for a film in the modern Thursday preview screenings era.
According to online ticketing outlets, STX is hoping to squeeze FOUR showings in on Thursday May 9th. Los Angeles movie theaters have already listed times for 3:00, 5:30, 8:00 and 10:30. That’s, basically, an entire day’s worth of showings and box office.
Yet, as of now, all that money will be rolled into Friday. This begs the question: will we soon get to the point where films will open on Thursdays at, say, Noon? Would there then be Wednesday night preview showings, or would the U.S. become like Australia and simply open their films on Thursdays, ushering in a 4-Day Weekend at the Box Office?
I had a conversation about this with a local movie theater GM last summer (before I went into a 4pm preview showing of a movie), and we agree that this idea is something the industry would likely go for… and not far down the line.
What will this do to Free screenings that studios hold around the country? Thursday night ones have largely been eliminated since this whole thing began in late 2012. Could Wednesday night ones be the next to go?
And is it time for Thursday money to actually be counted as Thursday money – and for all the studios to start marketing the movies as opening on Thursdays. (Some have welcomed this marketing change, while others are trying their best to downplay it, for unexplained reasons.)
This is just one of the reasons why it’s a great time to be a movie analyst.