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This is a REALLY LONG WEEK. I've got to express love, though, for… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003

I've got to express love, though, for the fact that all of this is over a book release. A book release. Parties all over the world, big huge deal at work, kids dragging themselves out of bed early on a Saturday to grab copies...

This is the way the world should be. All the time.

I've spent so much time in female Potter fandom, I forgot how many boys read the books, until one boy I see every day got quoted as a fan in the paper, and two others berated a third for not having read it yet--roughly, "What's the matter with you, man? It's Harry Potter."

I have been wondering... how long has this opening midnight thing been happening? I mean, yeah, with books, it's mostly only HP, but I don't remember when I was a kid that people would try to see a movie at midnight on Thursday if it were a Friday release. It's a weird and quirky new thing.

A weird and quirky new thing that I like very much, really. Maybe these things are frivolous in the grand scheme of things, but as a society, on the grand scheme sorts of things, we tend to be kind of divided... but when you get to these genuinely pancultural pop culture moments, we get to have a real, genuine event moment. And I think this is a good thing. It's good to make special times and special events to mark happy occasions instead of just sad ones. It's good for us as people to be happy in one another's presence at the same time. You know?

Thus endeth my philosophical thought for the day.
18 comments or Leave a comment
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 15th, 2005 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
The first time I heard of a midnight show was for The Empire Strikes Back, but that was after the evening opening show (as I recall, about 6:00 for the first show.) There were late shows, but not early like the shows we have now.

Of course, Rocky Horror was running at midnight for years.

I heard about one library system that is opening its drive through at midnight for patrons who have a copy on reserve. THAT's pretty cool in my book.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2005 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember ESB opening at the 6:00 show, too. The first weekend was always difficult to get to! I have vague memories of standing packed shoulder to shoulder in the theater lobby for RotJ, and people in costumes, but it was a Saturday evening show.
phylogenetics From: phylogenetics Date: July 15th, 2005 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)

I have been wondering... how long has this opening midnight thing been happening? I mean, yeah, with books, it's mostly only HP, but I don't remember when I was a kid that people would try to see a movie at midnight on Thursday if it were a Friday release. It's a weird and quirky new thing.

I *think* the midnight opening/partying thing got started with Star Wars: Episode I, when Lucas decided to open it in the middle of the week and cinemas offered midnight showings and everyone decided to go crazy and throw waiting-in-line bashes, but I'm not positively sure....there may have been other pop culture midnight events before this, but Episode I was the first time I have ever heard of it.

Certainly, after Episode I, a lot of other movies go into the gig, now it's become normal for any highly anticipated pop culture event.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2005 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you might be right. Chalk up another change Lucas has made in moviemaking and moviegoing. :)

It's a fun idea. I'm not surprised it caught on.
From: a_p_ Date: July 15th, 2005 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I went to see the ANH:SE in 1997 at 1:30am in the morning opening night, because by the time I bought tickets, the midnight show sold out. The place was packed (the line was going pretty good by 11:45 or so, I dragged my friends out there by 11:30 too make sure we were first ;)), there were a few people in costume (a Vader and Obi-Wan recreated the saber fight in front of the screen to wild applause while we waited), and it was just a good time all-around. So I'd still credit Lucas, but even earlier than TPM. :D I'm not sure I remember a midnight release that was a big deal before that.
honorh From: honorh Date: July 15th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm getting in on the midnight release, same as I made sure to go to RotK and RotS on the opening days. There's just something about being with a group of fans just as enthusiastic as yourself who are getting to see or read something they've been looking forward to for the first time. It's a kind of energy you don't find anywhere else, and I love it.
odyssea From: odyssea Date: July 15th, 2005 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that midnight 'shows', be they for movies or books, are just about coming together as fans. It's creating a moment to remember together, to link an isolated incident to something bigger. I can't really remember going to see some movie last year, but I can clearly remember seeing every Star Wars prequel, seeing the Special Edition releases as well, because there was a sense of togetherness: I went to see ESB: SE with three of my best friends, wearing a Han in carbonite t-shirt.

I don't think it's just pop culture, I think it's validation for things that we are sometimes insulted about and berated against. A person may make fun of you for being a SW fan, but when you're together with several hundred other people who love it as much as you do, than that one person becomes a sad, lonely person with nothing better to do than try to make someone feel bad because of what they like.

Okay, I'm slightly tipsy and so excited!
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: July 15th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it's so nice to see that I'm not the only one with a happy feeling and love for camraderie, friendship, and a common interest that unites people throughout the world. I'm thrilled to attend the release party in a nearby city, and I'm dragging most of my family with me. I can't wait for them to see that no, I'm not an obsessed freak. There are other people out there as anxious as I am to read HBP. Sidebar: I recently joined thefacebook, this cool college student connecting thing, and was quite pleased to see that my school in September not only had a "I am proud to be a Harry Potteraholic" group, but that it had dozens of members too. Which I can't wait to tell all my friends who advised me not to share my love of HP with my new friends in college.

That is all.
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: July 15th, 2005 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
FWIW, midnight releases for books seem to have started with Goblet of Fire, which was the first of the Harry Potter books to be released simultaneously in the US & UK. [For the first three books, the American release was delayed for long enough that fans started ordering copies from Amazon.co.uk, until Scholastic wised up and saw the dollar signs.]
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 15th, 2005 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Have a question for you

If you were going to have a t-shirt that had some sort of Harry Potter/Librarian theme, what would it say?
murasaki99 From: murasaki99 Date: July 15th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
To use a 60's phrase, 'It's a Happening, man!'. I made the midnight opening of SW ep. III - in Dark Side Adept costume and everything. There was a group of us from work and we all sat together and had a great time. Not sure if I'll make it into costume tomorrow - I've got my Hogwarts school robe I could wear to make it official. Whee! How many more hours?
sarah531 From: sarah531 Date: July 15th, 2005 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
This makes me really wish I could go to one of the midnight parties. :(
sreya From: sreya Date: July 15th, 2005 08:24 am (UTC) (Link)
*grumbling about the dang exam schedule being on top of Harry Potter*

Since you're on a philosophical thought anyway, your comment reminded me of going to midnight masses for Christmas -- it's always exciting, for me, to be with other people right at midnight, for the first minute of Christmas, particularly if we're all singing hymns together. It's the best way to start a holiday, in my opinion. (And a good excuse to sleep late in the morning!)

I know it may seem a little off-topic, but I have to wonder if it really isn't. Much of the success of Star Wars has been attributed to the generation of the 70s looking for some spiritual connection, a quasi-religious search for something mythical and bigger than themselves. Sometimes I look at the phenomenon of fandoms in general, and the community aspect of it, and the devotion to it, and wonder if it's filling a void in us that used to be filled by things like religion. Not that I think it's replacing religion -- I know a great many fans, including myself, who are deeply religious (though of course not all) -- but that other things which used to fill that human need for community aren't working right now. So devotion to an imaginary world, and the community you can build that way, ends up being what people turn to.

The flip side of this is that I find myself turning to the internet and fandom events less when I'm swept up in a feeling of community with the people around me. For instance, this summer I've been part of a tight-knit group of 30 law students who've been plunked in the middle of a strange world (Egypt), and between spending 8 hours a day in class together and spending the weekends together touring the country, we bonded very quickly into a community. I've not just found myself with less time to spend online. I've honestly been less interested in spending time online. I've responded to fewer things, felt less inclined to check particular websites, etc. I just didn't need to.

Of course, the fanfic ideas haven't slowed down at all, they've in fact picked up speed, so I guess the writing part of me doesn't need any sort of community whatsoever. Until I'm looking for feedback, anyway. :~p
amelia_eve From: amelia_eve Date: July 15th, 2005 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I was in college in the 1970s when the original Star Wars movie came out, and it was definitely a big change in the way peoples saw the movie multiple times and waited in long lines to get in. At that time, there was already a well-established cosplay thing going on with midnight shows of Rocky Horror, a film that had not done particularly well on first release but built a huge underground following, starting with showings in Greenwich Village that attracted a big gay audience.

Movie consumption in the 1970s had a very different pattern before the proliferation of home video. Most big cities and college towns had "repertory cinemas" that showed classic films, often in series, often changing the programs daily. The Landmark theater chain was a leader in this regard, and still does occasional big-screen showings of vintage films, Otherwise these are now relegated mostly to museum film centers and a few specialized cinemas like Film Forum in New York City.

Since home video has become widespread, the theaters have had to make cinema attendance more of a destination event. I think this is a lot of what is behind the midnight openings, though I agree that the Star Wars series was the original driver. There is a general ripple effect in that movies are no strongly judged on first week performance and don't linger in theaters nearly as long as they used to.

I agree that Goblet of Fire was the first HP book to be hyped with the same type of timing sensitivity. I think it is related to the growing awareness in all media of fandom and its financial clout, and also to a multi-generational appeal of the HP series. After all, it is still largely considered a children's series (hello, Scholastic) and depends upon the participation of parents to buy the books for their kids and drive them to the midnight parties.

I think we'll be see more of this type of event marketing in the future.
velvetmouse From: velvetmouse Date: July 15th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've spent so much time in female Potter fandom, I forgot how many boys read the books, until one boy I see every day got quoted as a fan in the paper, and two others berated a third for not having read it yet--roughly, "What's the matter with you, man? It's Harry Potter."

I'm totally with you on this one - I've spent most of the last *gulp* 5 years in, as you say, "female Potter fandom." And then I started teaching 6th and 8th grade this year. I was suprised (and a little amazed) that I think more of my boys had read HP than my girls. I tend to think of fantasy as a girl-dominated readership. Which I suppose is true in many cases, but not HP. I think I scored major brownie points with my boys though - "Wow, she can talk obsessively about BOTH Harry Potter and fantasy baseball!" *egrin*

Have fun at your release tonight! :-)
sreya From: sreya Date: July 16th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
*laugh* You sound like my Mom. She recently got a job working with (at-risk) teenage boys, and she learned how to play Magic just get an in with them.

She's now quite obsessive about stopping at the card store to improve her decks, actually.
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: July 15th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wanted to wish you a happy reading. I'll be going to a wedding tomorrow, and I probably won't get the book till about Monday or Tuesday (WHY!!!)because there's no post on Saturday where I live (Yeah, that's why, but WHY!!!).

marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: July 15th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love midnight openings, they make things just that extra bit more exciting.

(The actual point of this comment is to tell you that after weeks of not quite being able to motivate myself to reread all of OotP in preparation for HBP, I've just spend a good solid three afternoons devouring Shifts again. It's still beautiful and left me in tears, and thank you. :))
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