Last night I went to a midnight screening of The Avengers. It was, to put it simply, the most fun I’ve had in a theater in a while.
I was asked to tag along by a friend who was probably more excited than any 35-year-old man should be to see a movie, and I figured (since I wasn’t getting any sleep at home with the new baby anyway) what the hell.
Now, midnight screenings aren’t really my thing. 1999. That was the last time I’d gone to midnight screening and it had left an excruciatingly sour taste in my mouth for the whole experience. Having waited what felt like a lifetime for the heroes of my childhood to finally appear again on screen, only to open their should-be-epic story by responding to mild discontent in the form of a galactic trade dispute, will do that to you.
*Jedi Knights: The Customer Service Representatives of the Universe*
Yet, here I was, 13 years later, in a theater filled with a quite underestimated crowd for a school night. Unable to sit together, my friends and I were lucky to find seats at all in the sea of comic book t-shirts and unending bags of Sour Patch Kids which had undoubtedly been snuck into the theater.
As I write this, what stays with me from last night is the energy in the air. It was everywhere and for everything. The excited anticipation for the lights to fall and the first trailers to roll. The seconds ticking away until their favorite comic and movie characters appear together on screen.
Everyone in that theater was an Avengers fan, and many dressed accordingly in cosplay (a term I've recently just learned meaning costume and role play...look, nobody said I was the brightest bulb). In fact, just before the film began a costume contest took place, won by a Hulk who seemed that much more committed to the look, having pumped his body with what I can only guess had been a few years' regimen of a steroid program. That’s dedication, people.
Go see the movie, by the way. It’s a blast. And to see it with every comic fan in
the city, cheering and applauding; the experience was that much better. Joss Whedon, the director, and a bit of a comic geek himself, should direct all the movies. I’m not talking about all The Avengers movies. I’m saying he should direct ALL THE MOVIES.
He’s that good.
He’s that good.
The night got me wondering, though. What does it take to have an intellectual property like The Avengers reach that status where its fans dress up and stay out to the witching hours to catch a first screening? It’s not just movies and comic books, either. I recall being in
and seeing the queue stretch down the block at Waterstone’s for the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Twilight has the same kind of following. Star Trek, too. London
What makes the fans so dedicated?
Agent Jessica Papin at DGLM linked to a Salon.com article about what it takes for a book to reach blockbuster status. I have no idea. Nor, it seems, does anyone else, but author James W. Hall of a new book Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the 20th Century’s Biggest Bestsellers, thinks he’s found some common denominators. It’s an interesting article (which explores some ideas of Hall’s book), but what happened last night at the movie reaches beyond blockbuster. That sort of love of something is special.
It’s a cult, in a way, requiring dedication and loyalty, and not just market success.
So, what is the X-factor? I’d love to know.
As would every entertainment exec on the planet.
If you’ve got some reasons, leave ‘em in the comments.