2013 Trend: Soft Thursday Night Openings Became the New Midnight Premiere

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of articles on The Movie Blog looking back at some of movies most notable highlights, big trends, and best feature releases of 2013.


One noticeable 2013 box office trend was the soft opening of most movies on Thursday evening sneak peeks. This avoided the traditional Midnight Madness for those really excited to see it. Another consequence is front loaded opening day numbers as box office pundits rolled Thursday night grosses into Friday nights numbers. Going out on Thursday nights seems to be more acceptable in our American culture since casual Friday strolls right around the corner. Also, if someone has busy plans for the weekend, this Thursday sneak peek is a convenient time to watch the movie. Opening a movie a little earlier makes sense from a business standpoint.


The-Dark-Knight-Rises-MovieAfter the Dark Knight shooting, audiences and studios were a little leery of opening movies in the middle of the night. It took months for late set business to recover. Fitting that the first movie to try this method in 2013 was Warner Brothers’ Gangster Squad (a movie whose controversial trailer was featured before The Dark Knight and had its release date shifted to the beginning of the 2013 not to mention a few key scenes altered). These new show times seemed to implemented to place anxious moviegoers at ease.


Other motives are at play to allow paying audiences to see the movie before the official release. Audiences have a chance to watch a movie before the critics can chime in and drastically influence the conversation. As Rotten Tomatoes scores and social media reactions dominate public perception, it is reassuring to have audiences not be under the influence of someone else’s opinion. I noticed this was the case when studios schedule press screenings at the same time as these soft openings. This happened with at least Zero Dark Thirty, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Anchorman 2 among other releases.


As a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore, I cannot help but wonder if this would affect the CinemaScore rating in a way to not accurately gauge the audience reaction? I have my doubts either way. Polling the Thursday night soft openings isn’t something the company does. CinemaScore founder Ed Mintz is old fashioned but has been in this business long enough to know what he is doing. He, as well as the studios, prefer to poll audiences during the twilight and prime sets on opening day. Regardless, the soft openings of releases will continue in this industry as long as the studios find them to be a valuable asset to the bottom line.


So TMB readers, do you think most movies should opening on Thursday evening or should the studios go back to select midnight premieres for movies with passionate fanbases?



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About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

2 thoughts on “2013 Trend: Soft Thursday Night Openings Became the New Midnight Premiere

  1. I love the idea of Thursday night openings. I do understand that it akes aways from the thrill of a Midnight Madness opeing just a little, but in a way it is still the same as one is still standing among a line of excitied fellow movie-goers. I understand the leeriness of it all as well though. That is an excellent point and still has me on my toes from time to time. I also understnad how this can both hurt and profit some companies. From an audience view point though, I say continue with Thursday releases.

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