Seth Green in an ill-fitting suit. Going-out tops on the red carpet. A cornucopia of frosted tips. There was no greater, or weirder, time to be at a movie premiere than in the ’90s and early aughts. No celebrity looked as sleek or glowing or unattainably camera-ready as they do now, mostly because they were rolling up to what we now think of as formal events wearing baggy light-wash jeans, Hawaiian shirts, and spaghetti-strap tanks from the mall. And it was beautiful.
The popular new Twitter account @NightOpening, which blew up over the weekend, invites you to go down a rabbit hole of photos from that era. They’re mostly taken at premieres of unabashedly low-brow comedy films — from Mars Attacks and Eurotrip to The Mask and The Hot Chick — and the result is a delightfully demented array of nostalgia: the lighting is bad, the fashion is worse, and people didn’t think twice about smoking in public. It’s also a glorious, bizarre, and often unsettling time capsule from when Mark McGrath and Tom Green were regulars on the party circuit, OJ Simpson hung out at the Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo premiere, and both Donald Trump and Tommy Pickles from Rugrats showed up to celebrate The Phantom Menace.
Julio, the 33-year-old Miami resident who runs the account and is preparing to turn it into a podcast, talked to the Cut about how he finds his photos, the wildest looks he’s come across, and why Val Kilmer was seemingly everywhere.
So what do you do when you’re not posting premiere photos?
When I’m not scouring the super information highway for premiere photos, I’m checking out different Dave & Buster’s to find out which one has the best margarita in town. Oddly enough, as a guy who owns a single suit from Men’s Warehouse, I apparently have some strong opinions about fashion.
Why did you decide to start the account? Did one particular photo or a set of photos from one premiere inspire it?
I had been posting them on different social media for some time and a friend of mine on Twitter known as @Shampoodler suggested that I make a separate account. Once I was browsing through the Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace premiere and saw people like Donald Trump and Rugrats’ very own Tommy Pickles attended, I realized these events can be bigger than the movie sometimes. Samuel L. Jackson was wearing a custom Episode 1 Kangol hat — he went the extra mile.
How do you find the photos — are you searching by movie, or by actor?
I go by movie titles and fond memories. Then, I cross my fingers and hope that Val Kilmer appeared at the event. Normally I explore campy ’90s movies, but I had a craving for some Louie Anderson recently, so I searched for him by name and found him in some truly delightful Harlem Globetrotter sweats at the Soul Plane premiere. You never know what you’re going to find.
What is it about pop-culture photos from the ’90s and the early aughts that you think are so appealing to look at right now?
It all comes down to form-fitting apparel and the lack thereof. If there is ever a great sateen suit fabric shortage we will only have the ’90s to blame. Hank Azaria would show up at a premiere with suits that could easily fit two, maybe three, Hank Azarias. A good portion of men looked like they borrowed their dad’s suits for these events.
Even though the ’90s and early 2000s weren’t so long ago, we were somehow more open to vibrant colors, ill-fitting suits, and flashy dresses. The stars of those eras went all-out for their premieres to make headlines and appear in magazines — it was their primary marketing vehicle. These were simpler times where celebrities didn’t have to worry about TMZ.
What’s the craziest outfit you’ve come across?
Madonna in A League of Their Own went to the premiere in jorts, a see-through top with an exposed bra and a blazer.
Second place? Neve Campbell in a completely see-through garb at Wild Things.
It was pretty commonplace to show up in see-through anything. David Arquette is a strong runner-up, showing up in whatever zoot suit he could dig up to hit a premiere or a swing night. And there’s Mila Jovovich at The 5th Element premiere who went full on sci-fi in her attire. Kudos to all of them for indulging in the hoopla of the event.
How about the wildest hairstyle?
Freddie Prinze Jr. during I know What You Did Last Summer with a full head of spiky frosted tips was a bold move and Robert Pattinson at the Sex Drive premiere looking like he just woke up was also an inspired look.
What’s the most incongruous, unlikely celebrity you’ve been surprised to see showed up at a movie premiere, and for what movie was it?Andrew Dice Clay at Nutty Professor II: Meet the Klumps. I visualize how that day played out for him often. I’m sure his friends would call and he would have to cancel plans, just having to mention he’s seeing the Klumps later that day. Then, he showed up in his uniform of choice: a leather vest. But Dice’s best accessory was always a dangling lit cigarette in his mouth.
Out of all the movie premieres you’ve come across, which one would you most have liked to have attended and why?
There’s so many great ones. But at the end of the day, I’d travel back in time just to get the chance to take Chris Kattan to Chili’s for a 2-for-1 after the premiere of A Night At The Roxbury. Will Ferrell can come too, I guess, but more importantly I’d love to borrow my Uncle Howard’s Miata for the occasion. There just wouldn’t be room for the three of us, but I’m sure we could figure it out.
Finally, why was Val Kilmer everywhere?
Honestly, I like to believe he just happens to be in the area and pops in after running errands. I like to think he just didn’t want to pay to see these films, which, again, kudos to Val.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.