How to Survive a Midnight Movie Premiere

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It's that time of year again: Summer Blockbusters are already starting to play at theaters across the nation, and with some of them comes the great adventure known as the Midnight Movie Premiere.

For the seasoned professional, this experience is more than just a two-hour outing. But for the novice, it can be a bit overwhelming. And that's why I'm offering these useful tips:

MOJO MIDNIGHT MOVIE PREMIERE SURVIVAL GUIDE

  • Sleep. At some point, your body will mandate this. It doesn't matter where or when, but if you don't plan for it, you may find yourself snoring a snoozefest and adding to the soundtrack. Very young children are more apt to sleep through the movie, although, to be honest, I've only seen two at a Midnight Movie Premiere. It's usually best to leave the tiny tots at home. Teenagers and young adults find that sleep will come approximately five minutes after arriving home. Adults should catch a nap before the movie, or may find themselves nodding back and forth throughout the flick. This last tip also applies to those who are just hanging out with family and friends but otherwise have no true interest in the movie. If you arrive terribly early, you can stake your claim in line and rest there as long as you don't do something like kick your neighbor or talk in your sleep.

(Credit Image: © Robin Loznak/ZUMAPRESS.com)

  • Arrive early. Enlist family and friends for a changing of the guard so not one person has to stay in the same spot all day. Pay attention to the local chatter for a few days ahead of time. Drive by the theater half a day early to scope it out. Ask the Ushers how many theaters are sold out. These will give you a good indication of the expected crowd. For the Midnight Movie Premiere of Twilight, Dot and I arrived a good ten hours early. For The Hunger Games, it was only four.
  • Drink coffee. Then drink a VitaminWater. Then drink a regular water. Do all this at least an hour before the start of the movie so you won't have to step on people's feet in your race to the bathroom. Buy a hot coffee half an hour before the movie starts, but don't drink it until then.
  • Don't buy snacks as soon as you arrive. They'll go stale and you'll wish you'd saved your snackage funding for the Main Event. Popcorn is meant to be enjoyed during the drama. Bring healthy snacks from home to munch on while you're sitting/standing/squashed amongst all the other attendees. Bottled water, sliced fruit, even sushi make a great snack.
  • If you have several adults in your group, send one on a food run about three hours before the show for "real" food, which includes anything from the local McDonald's Dollar Menu to Buffalo Wild Wings. Any earlier and you'll still be hungry. Any later, and you'll be ushered into the actual theater and asked to throw your food away or put it in your car.
  • Bring blankets. Most theaters will seat you as soon as the last regular crowd has left, so you can hang out in plush purple seating. Even so, for the first few hours at least you'll be sitting/standing/squashed either outside or on cold, uncomfortable tile flooring. Once you are in your seat, the blanket can act as either extra cushioning or a covering, depending on your mood, age, and fatigue level.
  • Know the Show. This is critical. Even if you are just a tag-along seat-filler, it's important that you at least have a working knowledge of what's going on. Midnight Movie Premieres are those designed for an Already-Audience. If you admit to a stranger that you're not sure who Agents J and K are while watching Men in Black III, you run the chance of having popcorn tossed at you... from your own group!
  • Speak the Language. This comes on the heels of the above point for obvious reasons. Battleship's Liam Neeson won't be talking about quilting. Neither should you. If the movie is based on a book that you haven't read, there's no shame is asking your friends for cribnotes. Just do it quietly and away from the general public.
  • If you still haven't fully grasped the above two points, for Pete's sake do not ask questions during the movie!
  • In fact, the cardinal rule of Midnight Movie Premiere attendees is never, ever speak during the movie itself. There should be no distractions whatsoever. Turn off your cell phones. Do not bring cellophane packaging and do not crunch your smuggled-in soda cans.
  • It is permissible, however, to loudly tell someone else that they are disrupting your experience. Especially if other people are looking annoyed and not doing anything about it. It's better to be quickly loud and subdue the annoyer, than to let it continue.
  • There's safety in numbers... and fun! For some reason, a Midnight Movie Premiere is much more enjoyable if there's a herd involved. The more, the merrier! Most theaters pre-sell tickets at least a month in advance. If you can, buy as many as you think your people will want. You can always sell them back to the theater... but not a stranger, especially at a marked up price. That's called Scalping. It's illegal, and can get you kicked out of the theater.
  • Dress accordingly: a Midnight Movie Premiere in winter calls for scarfs and mittens and a hot thermos. Notsomuch for a summer premiere.
  • Dress the Part: If you're really into the storyline, dress up as one of the characters. Wear hats. Glasses. Overcoats. Wigs. Whatever it takes to get strangers to point you out of a crowd and say, "Die Hard Fan, right there, folks!"
  • Bring a bag of books to read and games to play. This is also more fun if you have a larger group. Small pocket card games like Uno or Apples to Apples are great fun. Even a Sudoku puzzle book can help pass the time faster. You can take it to the car before the movie begins, or bring it into the theater with you and keep playing.
  • Pretend to be someone you're not. Pretend you're related to someone in the movie, but don't make it obvious. Be subtle. Trick the people around you into wondering if it's true or not. When I was in high school, my friend Debby and I had tons of people convinced Martin Sheen was my uncle. And this was during the days when his sons featured prominently with the rest of the Brat Pack. Talk about a fun summer!
  • Start a sing-a-long. Speak in fake accents. Draw attention to yourself and your group, but in a good way. Sometimes theater managers will reward you for this by offering free popcorn. Draw attention to yourself and your group in a bad way, and they'll reward you by kicking you out. Know the limit line before you cross it!
  • While you're sitting there on the cement or tile for hour after hour after hour, it's quite possible you'll start to go a little mad. That's okay. Embrace the culture. Laugh at everything. Point at strangers and whisper to your friends. Eavesdrop on other conversations and then blog about it.
  • Most of all, and I can't believe I'm actually writing this (but I need a good closer): Have Fun. Don't let the natural irritants get to you. Strangers will talk during the movie. At least one of your friends will fall asleep. Popcorn will be spilled. But even with the knowledge of those events having a 100% occurrence probability rate, I still fully recommend the experience.

Which Midnight Movie Premiere will you see this summer?

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