Ask anyone to name the singular joy they derive from following Movie Premieres Unlimited and the answer varies—and therein lies its brilliance. The account, which has taken over Twitter in the last few months and launched a parallel Instagram account in April, operates on a simple process: a red carpet movie premiere—as far back as the '80s, typically '90s and occasionally the early aughts, the name of the movie, year, and four Getty images of celebrities walking said carpet. Sometimes, a bump with four more (the celebrities are never identified with captions or tags). That's it, that's the tweet.
And yet, under the handle @NightOpening, Movie Premieres Unlimited boasts almost 80k followers, including Oscar award-winning Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins, The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson, Brie Larson, Adam Brody, myself, everyone I know...you get the picture. Some follow for the inherent nostalgia. A good portion of us get a special kick out of the dated but also cyclical, often awesome and awesomely egregious fashion. And there are those who delight in seeing celebrity couples once shipped and now long forgotten. All in all, the account is a time capsule. Each post is a newly unearthed document to pore over, and by posting sans commentary, it frees the narrative for any given carpet collection to spin in different directions. A ridiculous fit epitomizing the lawlessness of '90s formal style on one slide might showcase Ethan Hawke smoking in the back of a limo epitomizing '90s lawlessness cool on the next. Or Nicolas Cage pulling up to the Con Air premiere standing up in a Con Air-branded jeep, which is what we call universally appealing Good Content.
After weeks of trading various tweets across several group chats, I figured it was high time the genius behind this wholesome and endearing account spoke his piece. The following is an interview with Julio, the sixth-grade history teacher who runs both handles (and recently launched an accompanying podcast), conducted over e-mail, where we talk the impetus behind the account, the science of his picture selection, the most surprising old couples he's come across in his findings, and more.
What made you start this in the first place? What's your mission?
Historical preservation. I had taken an interest in premieres for years; there was always a certain absurdity that is difficult to describe but captured perfectly in a photograph. Sure, you can talk about Andrew Dice Clay with a lit cigarette on his way to see Under Siege, but it needs to be seen. In fact, I would go as far as to say these photos belong in the Official Library of Congress for posterity. Just so future generations can see how far we’ve come.
It's interesting that you post sans commentary—and even sans labeling—the celebrities in the photos.
I don’t want to dictate the discussion. There’s a lot of elements to this and whatever conversations occur are completely organic, which I feel is better than responding to a dumb joke I might be tempted to make. I really don’t know what I can really add in terms of context or commentary to a photo of Sinbad thrilled to be at the premiere Bring It On—his enthusiasm says more than I ever could.
Is there a specific era or time range that you're pulling from?
The ’90s are big. I guess having lived through the era as a kid but never really experiencing it as an adult kind of makes me feel like I was shortchanged. The most I got out of the '90s was wearing No Fear shirts and candy beepers, so in a way, I’m living vicariously through these celebrities getting to wear B.U.M equipment to a red carpet, while appearing to be on another stratosphere.
Would you ever stray out of it to others?
Occasionally I’ll dive into the '80s, but for some reason those tend to be more black tie events. I guess at some point in the '90s Dan Cortese threw the rules out the window and made it so you can wear literally anything. Honestly, I kind of scoff at the whole formality of dressing like you’re going to the prom or a job interview to go see Coneheads. I might venture more into the late 2000s, but surprisingly there’s not enough Ed Hardy at these events. Hopefully I hit the Bedazzled jackpot.
Do you feel like carpets today are as interesting?
It’s terrible, everybody discovered what a tailor is and there’s apparently a great denim shortage I don’t know about cause nobody is wearing that to red carpets either. It was like Matthew Perry was dressing for three at the Serving Sara premiere and now we have a great fabric shortage.
All seriousness though, the big blockbuster premieres are still fun, there’s just no nostalgia attached. These are still absurdly large events—I mean Solo had the Millennium Falcon out. It’s just a shame Jason Alexander wasn’t there in his Laugh Factory jacket hoping to get a free screening of yet another movie he wasn’t involved with. I think him and Chewie could have hit it off.
When did you first start to notice the account taking off and resonating with people?
It was about 12 hours into the account being up that I had close to 1,000 followers with little effort and maybe 20 posts, so I kept at it. Then three days in I find out Brie Larson and Rian Johnson are following me. I mean I’m just a sixth-grade history teacher, part of me was tempted to send Rian my ideas for his trilogy (which is just to include more Watto) and ask Brie if she wants to go to Chili’s for a 2 for $20 just cause you never know right? I mean it’s likely no, but I never expected her to follow me in the first place.
Seeing as you typically pick four to eight pictures, what goes into curating the selects?
Ok, so there’s the power players: [Val] Kilmer, [Jason] Alexander, [Jon] Lovitz, and Carmen Electra are my personal Mount Rushmore. Then there are key factors—if you have on Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Cafe apparel, you’re making the cut. If you’re David Spade’s ridiculously attractive date, you’re in as well. Cigarette on the red carpet? Welcome aboard! Draped in denim? That’s a done deal. You get the picture.
Who's your favorite recurring actor/celebrity in the pics?
Jason Alexander. He was showing up to premieres BEFORE Seinfeld fame so he is a true movie buff. Again it’s superhumanizing to know Jason got excited about free movies as much as my uncle Howard. Dressed just like him, too.
What is it about the red carpet pictures that are most interesting to you: the fashion or the couples?
The couples are interesting because it’s so strange to see Sarah Jessica Parker with Robert Downey Jr. or Drew Barrymore and Tom Green. It can be kind of depressing and the term used a lot is “cursed imagery.” Which I get, but all these photos are a celebration of a time period. The fashion still is the focal point, it humanizes celebrities to see them dressed in loose-fitting clothes to something we view as a formal event. Also, it’s just funny to see how some trends are cyclical and you can find very similar looks on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg.
Whose style holds up the best to you?
Credit to Sarah Michelle Gellar, she has survived the worst era of fashion and not once has she looked ridiculous. Pauly Shore has some good looks, but he took a few too many gambles, same applies to Edward Furlong. Eddie Murphy is probably the most consistently dapper of all the men, he was playing 4D chess and knew these photos would be around forever.
What was the most unlikely or surprising couple that you came across?
Will Friedle and Jennifer Love Hewitt was a weird one, I had no idea they dated in the late ’90s. It makes the Carson Daly and Jennifer Love Hewitt photos all the more awkward. I just hope it was an amicable split. As stated earlier, Robert Downey, Jr. and Sarah Jessica Parker was really something I had no recollection of. I was also unaware Robert was drafted by the Hornets in '93 'cause he often wore a suit that had real draft night vibes.
What happened with Twitter last month? How do you feel about them threatening to lock your account?
Well, there’s not much I can do realistically. I’m only here to document and provide cultural commentary. I’m not upset with Jack. The support from the followers has been unreal and if anything its nice to know the account is so beloved.
What's your plan if that happens?
I’m on Instagram as @nightopenings, so hoping that sticks around as the contingency plan. Otherwise, in true '90s fashion, I’m taking my talents to Angelfire. But seriously, the plan for a while has been a podcast, which will be titled Movie Premieres Unlimited. It will be a recap of the film, the fashion, the celebrities in attendance, and other surrounding events of that particular period in time.
[Ed Note: And for added context, Julio's top five actors and movies: Carl Weather, Jerry O’Connell, Nicholas Cage, Charlize Theron, Vin Diesel; Revenge of the Sith, D.C Cab, Borat, Fast & Furious, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me]