Ashton Kutcher wearing a cowboy hat in earnest at the premiere of The Butterfly Effect (2004).
Britney Spears and Melissa Joan Hart posing in front of a Planet Hollywood sign in matching leather jackets at Drive Me Crazy (1999). Kobe Bryant in full black tie at Zorro (1998). Carmen Electra sporting wraparound stilettos and a 10-inch midriff at the premiere of PG buddy comedy Good Burger (1997).
All of the above (and so much more) can be found on the exceptional Twitter account @NightOpening — a digital archive dedicated to the glam, the trash, and everything in between from opening night premieres of the last few decades.
Every post feels like a game of Reagan/Clinton/Bush-era “I Spy” — who’s dating who (Matthew McConaughey and Patricia Arquette!), who’s wearing what (so much mesh), and most importantly, how did they all get there (Weird Al Yankovic and Peewee Herman at Purple Rain?)
We recently called the Miami-based school teacher behind the account to express our admiration for his work and learn more about the niche he’s carved on an otherwise dismal Internet.
How did @NightOpening start, and where did your interest in bad red carpet fashion come from?
Initially, I would post these images on my personal social media, just out of the sheer absurdity of seeing random celebrities standing in front of their premiere posters with these awkward expressions. Most look like they are coming in for their last day of work — they just have to promote their movie one last time and then they’re done.
I loved that so many celebrities dressed the opposite of how you’d expect them to look at a movie premiere. You'd think Dan Aykroyd would wear a suit to the Mean Girls premiere, but instead he's wearing sunglasses and stained jeans, and has bandaged hands for some reason. I'm just like, "Dude, what are you doing at Mean Girls?" but more importantly, "Why are your hands bandaged?"
It's questions like these that really got my attention. These are just bizarre events, come to think of it.
What comes first in your research: celebrity or movie?
I normally start with a couple movies. I'll pick something from the '90s, anything at random, if I think it could potentially have had a bizarre premiere. I've started looking at more children's movie premieres because those are the ones with the weirdest outfits and pairings. I recently saw a photo of Willem Dafoe with a freaky giant Chipmunk.
I love branding, so in looking for photos to post, anything with a step-and-repeat or a huge inflatable promotional item I’ll include. There also always has to be something going on in the background, because now everybody can zoom in on their phones.
I always try to feature posts that say, "Okay, here’s a photo of a star, but there's a bunch of shit going on in the background you probably should take a look at here." There's somebody out there being a creep and sneaking a peek at somebody. Like Trump and his weird fucking overgrown security guard at Nell (1994). Trump was also at both of the Sex & the City premieres.
Do the movies themselves have to be of a certain caliber? Most of them feel like the kind of titles you would have only seen at Blockbuster in the early aughts.
Definitely a lot of shitty Blockbuster movies. But at the end of the day, there is no criteria in the film itself. It just has to have had a good premiere. There are a few premieres out there, even in the '90s, where everybody was wearing black tie. I'm just like, "Alright, fuck this movie. You guys dressed well, I can never show this.”
Your first post on Night Opening was American Wedding (2003)?
Yeah, I'm a big Jason Biggs fan and American Wedding (aka American Pie 3) was the most bland movie premiere I could think of. You’re seeing these awkward faces of people who don’t necessarily want to be there, but their publicist was like, “You’re going.”
With the photos themselves, I imagine someone was like, “Throw these in a database,” and never really thought they would be looked at again.
Do you remember what post was the first to really take off?
I think Sex Drive (2008) with Robert Pattinson was the first one that got a good amount of interest. First off, Robert Pattinson wasn't in the movie, and second off, he honestly doesn't even look like he was actually invited to the premiere. He looks super out of it and I think people really took to that awkwardness.
Are you more interested in the nostalgic or archival aspect of the project?
A little bit of both. It’s not like I want to get into the National Chamber of Congress for preservation, but it's definitely archival at this point. We're forgetting these things happened. I posted a photo of George Clooney at Tommy Boy and I was like, "Oh, wow. We forget, George Clooney used to dress bad."
There’s also an obvious nostalgic element, because we look back and like, "This was a care-free time before social media, where these absurd events took place and you didn’t have to worry about getting burned.” At best, the celebs were just trying to get in news outlets—or Tiger Beat magazine, for the younger stars.
I posted a photo of George Clooney at Tommy Boy and I was like, "Oh, wow. We forget, George Clooney used to dress bad."
You’re using social media to preserve moments that only existed because people could dress however they wanted without caring about getting blasted online.
Nobody cared. Nobody cared that they dressed exactly like us. At that period in time, celebrities really dressed exactly like my Uncle Howard. You know? Uncle Howard would dress the same exact way if he was going to a screening of The Klumps, for sure.
But it’s not like ridiculing, it's a celebration of the time. It's all in good fun.
You’re a trash-Hollywood historian.
I am. I am the hobo ciphering through the digital trash and picking out what's important and what's not. I love that term: “Trash-Hollywood Historian”
The posts also give us a glimpse into very specific fashion moments a lot of people have forgotten: icy tips, mesh tops, puka-shell necklaces.
And so many of the celebrities are just in baseball caps and oversized T-shirts. It’s incredible. I also didn’t remember everybody being that draped in denim, but they truly were. Guys did not wear suits that fit apparently, at all. Like full grown adult men. Hank Azaria wore a suit for three.
Have you featured any of your personal favorite films?
Austin Powers 2, both a favorite movie and a great premiere. Richard Karn showed up at all three Austin Powers premieres. One? Okay. Two? Sure, why not. Three? You made it a point to see the opening night of an entire trilogy of movies that you are not the least bit involved in. That dude's a huge fan. I was big on that.
What’s your day job, by the way?
I'm a U.S. History teacher, 6th grade. Nobody at school knows what I do [on @NightOpening]. It's only been my first year working there and I’m not quite sure how to tell them about it .
My concern is that at some point I feel like, if I'm slacking in my job, they're going to bring it up to me and be like, "Hey, maybe not so much on the Night Opening and a little bit more grading papers.”
Have you ever been to an opening night premiere?
The only premiere I've ever been to was Run Fatboy Run, directed by David Schwimmer. And, yeah. It was not fun, but I went to it.