My love of going to the movies during the day began with my job. As a magazine editor tasked in the 2010s with finding entertainment stories, I often attended film screenings for journalists, many of which were scheduled for the early morning so that we could get to writing afterward. At first, I viewed these excursions as merely a professional obligation. I would walk into the screening bleary-eyed, coffee and pastry in hand, and slump into my seat. And yet, each time I emerged from the dark theater some two hours later, I felt revitalized—ready to take on the day. If the life wisdom espoused by self-improvement columns and my grizzled colleagues was “Do the hardest thing first,” I was taking the opposite approach. I was beginning my day doing the most pleasurable thing. It was, quite literally, an eye-opener.
Nearly a decade later, my soft spot for matinees remains. Although I’m no longer working as an editor, I still utilize weekends and holidays for early jaunts to the theater whenever I can. These showings have numerous advantages over their evening counterparts. The tickets are typically cheaper, for one. Daytime movie audiences also tend to be more relaxed, and to go alone. Walk into an 11 a.m. screening of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and you’ll find yourself among kindred spirits: people in sweats who’ve chosen to start their day in the space between public and private, hiding out from the larger world while still taking part in it. Earlier in the day, before many of life’s obligations have had a chance to weigh on you, moviegoing can be an even greater sensory feast than usual: One can more easily pay attention to the flavor of rich, buttery popcorn; to the oxblood velvet of the seats; to the tiny white aisle lights, twinkling invitingly like an airport runway. The luxury of time sprawling out before you makes everything feel elevated.