The Dark Knight
Credit: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros

Midnight Showing

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Tonight you’ll find me at my local movie theater for the midnight showing of Catching Fire. Well, not technically midnight. My movie starts at 11:15 p.m. because, apparently, the art of the midnight showing is changing into the art of the one-day-early showing, but that’s beside the point. I still expect a theater experience at least midnight showing-adjacent, which means a packed house, people in costume, and at least one memorable crowd reaction, all of which got me thinking about my first actual midnight movie.

Surprisingly for a movie addict, I didn’t attend a midnight showing until the summer after I graduated high school. My first midnight trip to the theater was on July 18, 2008 to see The Dark Knight. Not too shabby a pick!

I remember the theater being packed. I went with friends, my brother, and his friends, and we all ended up having to sit separately. Cops went around the theater threatening people about using their cell phones. If they saw any light during the film, you’d be escorted out.

The next thing I remember was The Joker’s big entrance. I’m not talking about the first time we saw him on the screen. I’m talking about the pencil scene. You know the one:

The Joker walking into that room laughing remains one of my favorite moments in cinema. And hearing the audience full of die-hard fans realize, in that moment, how great this performance was going to be? Now that was something I’d never forget.

Since The Dark Knight, I’ve been to a number of midnight shows. From the Twilight movies to The Dark Knight Rises to the last Hunger Games film, I’m pretty much a veteran now. But I think The Dark Knight still wins as my favorite midnight experience … and it’s all thanks to Heath Ledger.

So before you share your first midnight showing experiences, let’s check in and see what movies other EW staffers thought were worthy of sacrificing sleep:

Laura Hertzfeld: Is there any movie better to see at midnight than The Rocky Horror Picture Show?! Dammit, Janet, I think not! We used to go see it at the Village East when I was in college, and later I went to midnight shows at the Paramount in Oakland and at the NuArt here in L.A., where it’s still on every week.

Maricela Gonzalez: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my dad and my friend Heather. Bragged to all of my friends that I saw the movie all day that next Friday even though everyone was going to see it less than 12 hours later

Denise Warner: My first midnight release experience was Troy. A group of college friends and I went the night before we all left for the summer. Many other students from our school filled the theater — and since we went to a place that required everyone to read the Iliad, there was a lot of commentary on the interesting plot changes the filmmakers decided to make. But at least Brad Pitt looked good.

Andrew Asare: While I was in DC, they were showing early midnight screenings of The Hangover 2. So my friends and I decided to go after we left a bar. I never laughed so hard while slightly intoxicated.

Jen Arellano: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The experience was far from magical. I remember babies crying, popcorn projectile, shushing moms, and feeling so, so sorry for my Dad who had probably had to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to commute, but would go in groggy-eyed because of a bunch a rascals on broomsticks.

Katie Atkinson: My sad truth is that I didn’t do the midnight line thing until Twilight, when I was far too old.

Now it’s your turn! What was your first midnight showing experience, and how’d it go?

Midnight Showing
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