Movie Premiers in the 90s Were... Insane. This Twitter Account Proves It (and then Some).
When we first caught wind of nostalgia-fueled Twitter account @nightopening, we wondered, “was this created specifically for us?” The feed—essentially an archive of 90s movie premier red-carpet photos—is like a compilation of the decade’s hottest stars (George Clooney at the Tommy Boy premier in 1995), weirdest outfits (Rosie O’Donnell in a baseball cap and leather jacket at Rudy, 1993), strangest duos (Keri Russell and Joey Lawrence holding hands at Phenomenon, 1996) and only-in-the-90s moments (Will, Jada and baby Trey decked out in fatigues at the opening of Independence Day, 1996). Of course, we aren’t the only ones who became obsessed. Today, the handle boasts nearly 100K followers and has launched a podcast. We spoke to the man behind the brilliance—a Miami-based 6th grade history teacher who goes only by Julio, no last name—about starting his side gig, Pauly Shore’s fashion choices, and the premier he’d most want to time travel back to.
Hi Julio, Tell us—are you a true 90s kid, and what do you think defines a 90s kid?
Oof I was totally a 90s kid. Let’s see, to be a 90s kid, you had to live life with NO FEAR and drink only CapriSun. You owned a candy beeper. You learned ethical lessons from surrogate parents like Carl Winslow and Uncle Phil. You couldn’t wait to get to high school so you could have a 6-foot-tall locker, just like at Bayside High. And you only know Mark McGrath as Sugar Ray, and not as the Entertainment Weekly guy.
Why did you decide to launch the handle now?
God I don’t know, I think I wanted to create a directory, and to show future societies or the aliens that take over how we truly lived. I wanted to preserve this and offer cultural commentary sans commentary. Most importantly, it feels like we are in a perpetual state of nostalgia, so why not indulge a little in that?
How did Twitter become your go-to platform?
I feel Twitter is a more engaging platform. I can have back-and-forth discussions a lot more easily than on Instagram, which I am also on as @nightopenings, but honestly, I am just a bigger fan of Twitter and it was a matter of convenience. When I started I had about 100 photos on my hard drive and it becomes a little tricky to use Instagram on a PC. Also, it’s a lot easier for me to @ Jerry O’Connell and ask him about a Tomcats sequel than it would be for me to slide into his Instagram DM’s.
Where do you source your images from, and how do you choose which movies to post about?
It’s normally Getty images and I always leave the watermark, but I choose movies on a whim. My first 30 posts were just what was on my hard drive, then when all of this took off, it was just whatever came to me. I love Frasier so I was watching it one day and looked up which premieres [Kelsey Grammer] attended and found some gems of him and his ex-wife at Toy Story 2.
What about 90s premiers is so captivating, and also, maybe, hilarious?
It’s seeing the weird hybrid of things we forgot existed or blocked out of our minds, like Pauly Shore’s bizarre fashion choices or the almost shameless promotion of an actor casually wearing the hat for the movie he’s in. There are so many factors at work. People dressed like they were just going to the mall. We have this idea that movie premieres were these formal events and then we see Andrew Dice Clay in a Gold’s Gym shirt with a cigarette in hand and realize these events with Hollywood’s finest weren’t as classy as we thought.
What about 90s movie stars is so endlessly compelling?
Well, in terms of fashion, it’s almost endearing how badly some of them dressed. And when I say some of them, I specifically mean the men. It makes them relatable. Maybe it’s the whole “we’re gonna live forever” mindset, and everybody seemed so carefree. What I also find so compelling is that 90s movie stars felt they had to go to premieres of movies they didn’t star in, just to stay in the spotlight. It was almost like an obligation to go to the premiere of Alien 3 because you wanted your photo taken and to remain in the headlines, otherwise you risk being out of the limelight. Attending premieres was almost part of the mandate for 90s movie stars, like an unwritten rule.
Why do you think there is such a hunger for nostalgia—particular of the 90s variety—right now?
I think there are a lot of people, like myself, who are currently in their 30s and just now processing what we lived through. We’re reflecting on what was such an absurd time period, but to us at the time, it was just second nature. I wasn’t wearing a neon green XL shirt and jorts with any sense of self awareness. Now looking back at the films that were made, the clothing we wore, television, commercials, there’s this aura attached to the 90’s. I think some of us as adults look back at it as a more carefree time.
If you could choose to have attended one 90s premier, which would it be and why?
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. It’s not even close. I’m a big Pee-Wee fan, so that right there is enough, but David Lee Roth attended, as did Mr. T, Alice Cooper, Steve Martin, and the Fat Boys. Just the best collection of the weirdest human beings.
Best premier turnout ever—and why?
It's a toss-up between Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey & Alien 3. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey was very over the top 90s. Butterfinger was providing weird gift bags. Dan Cooksey (TV's Bobby Budnick) showed up rocking his Terminator 2 jacket, the guy who played the grim reaper wore a shirt featuring his character, Mario Lopez went with Tiffani (no longer Amber) Theissen. You just imagine Tiffani and Mario talked about the premiere the next day on the Saved by the Bell set. It was wild. As for Alien 3, it's just another strange collection of people under one roof: David Faustino, Carl Weathers, Milla Jovovich, Jean Claude Van Damme, Michael Richards, all attended. What does Bobby Budnick even say to Carl Weathers? Did they have conversations while waiting in line at concessions? Do premieres with stars even have concessions? I can't imagine JCVD waiting in line to buy a soda. These premieres bring about more questions than answers sometimes, which I think is part of the fun.
How about the the weirdest red-carpet duo?
Paris Hilton and Carrie Fisher were photographed together at the Heartbreakers premiere, but I don’t think they shared a ride there. It was just a matter of perfect timing. Val Kilmer and Jeff Goldblum went to the Prince of Egypt premiere and that just had to be a wild night. I can’t imagine the two of them in the same building, let alone inhabiting the same universe. It’s crazy.