Midnight at the Sunshine: Revisiting and Reveling in Film Faves

Photo via: Cinema Treasures.

Editor’s note: The following article first appeared in our June print magazine. It was written by TLD contributor Giacinta Frisillo.

Second-run films are first-rate fodder for a fun, rowdy, happening time Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday nights at the Lower East Side’s Landmark Sunshine Theatre. That’s when the Houston Street cinema turns from independent and experimental to weird and a little bit wacky. The Midnight Movie at Sunshine offers a unique chance to recreate the experience you had while watching the films you loved — or loved to hate — on the big screen the first time around. Re-watching with audiences as caught up in the show as these nighttime moviegoers are keeps the magic of the movies alive.

“The crowd tends to be very different at night,” notes Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, the house manager at Sunshine. “The midnight crowd has to be up for staying up late. They’re usually younger and hipper, and sometimes even nerdier.” Making a case in point, Mitchell Fesh, an usher, recalls when Super Mario Bros. ran. “People came in with the T-shirts on and were really jazzed! The fandom was incredible.”
And since Landmark Theatres opened Sunshine in New York City in 2001, the fan base for the Midnight Movie has been a solid staple. After it began in Los Angeles as a theater playing second-run and cult films, its operators believed there was a market on the East Coast. And they were right. Cas Pineda, who sometimes works in the box office during the late showings, knows of “one guy who comes to every single Midnight Movie there is.”