The Rise of Midnight Movie Showings

There’s something magical about watching a movie late at night, when most people are asleep and the only sound is the flickering of the screen. This is the appeal of midnight movies, a trend that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

What are Midnight Movies?

Midnight movies are late-night film screenings that typically begin after 11pm and run until the early hours of the morning. Originally, midnight movies were a countercultural phenomena that showcased edgy, experimental films that broke from mainstream cinema. There was also a strong cult following for sci-fi and horror films, which were often screened during the midnight movie slot.

The History of Midnight Movies

The term “midnight movie” was first coined in the 1950s, but the trend really took off in the 1970s. This was a time of great change in the film industry, as the Hollywood studio system began to crumble and independent filmmakers gained more recognition. In 1970, a movie theater in Greenwich Village called the Elgin began screening a series of offbeat films at midnight. The midnight movie craze soon spread to other theaters across the country, with screenings becoming events that attracted a young, counterculture audience.

One of the most famous midnight movies is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a musical comedy horror film that was first released in 1975. The film became a cult classic, with audiences dressing up in costume and participating in a variety of rituals during screenings.

The Appeal of Midnight Movies

So why do people stay up late to watch movies? There are several reasons why midnight movies have become increasingly popular:

Escape from Reality

In a world that is increasingly interconnected and fast-paced, midnight movies offer a chance to escape from reality and immerse oneself in a different world. For a few hours, moviegoers can forget about their problems and be transported to another time and place.


Midnight movies also offer a sense of camaraderie. People who attend these screenings are often passionate about the films being shown, and there is a sense of community that develops around shared interests.

Unique Experience

Midnight movies also offer a unique viewing experience. The late-night atmosphere is often more relaxed and laid-back than during daytime screenings, and there is a sense of excitement and anticipation that builds as the screening time approaches.

Why are Midnight Movies Making a Comeback?

While midnight movies were highly popular in the 1970s and 80s, the trend declined in the 1990s and 2000s, as home entertainment options became more prevalent and the internet offered a wealth of streaming services. However, in recent years, midnight movies have made a comeback, and there are several reasons why this trend is on the rise:

New Technology

The rise of digital technology has made it easier and more affordable for theaters to screen movies, even if they have limited audiences. This has allowed smaller theaters to offer a wider variety of programming, including midnight movie screenings.

Cult Followings

Many younger moviegoers are discovering the joys of cult films and midnight movies. The rise of social media has made it easier for fans of these films to connect with one another and share information about upcoming screenings. This has helped to create a new wave of interest in midnight movies and cult cinema.

Event Cinema

Movie theaters are increasingly offering “event cinema,” which includes special screenings and one-time-only events. These screenings often take place during off-hours, such as midnight movies, and are designed to offer a unique viewing experience that cannot be replicated at home.

Popular Midnight Movies

While there are many different films that have been screened as midnight movies, some of the most popular include:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The quintessential midnight movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been screening at midnight for over 40 years. The film’s energetic musical numbers, outlandish costumes, and subversive humor have made it a cult classic.

The Room

The Room, a 2003 film directed by and starring Tommy Wiseau, has become a cult classic due to its bizarre plot, stilted dialogue, and awkwardly bad acting. The film has gained a large following, with audience members often shouting out lines and throwing objects at the screen during screenings.


Eraserhead, a surreal horror film directed by David Lynch, was first released in 1977 and has been a staple of midnight screenings ever since. The film’s unsettling imagery and eerie sound design have made it a cult favorite.

The Future of Midnight Movies

The rise of midnight movies suggests that there is still a demand for communal moviegoing experiences. While the film industry is rapidly changing, and the rise of streaming services has made it easier than ever to watch movies at home, there is still something special about watching a movie with a group of strangers in a dark theater. Whether or not midnight movies will become a permanent fixture of the film industry remains to be seen, but for now, they offer a unique and exciting way to experience movies.


In an age of constant connection and endless entertainment options, midnight movies offer a welcome escape from the everyday. These late-night screenings allow moviegoers to immerse themselves in different worlds, connect with like-minded individuals and experience movies in new and exciting ways. While the future of midnight movies is uncertain, it’s clear that this trend has had a lasting impact on the film industry and on moviegoers everywhere.