It’s early January, and as I look outside (and squint), I can just about see a small amount of blue sky trying to break through the clouds. Christmas is a distant memory and while I wait patiently for warmer weather, 2020 has so far served up a great deal of grey.

It’s at this point in the calendar when I think about the year ahead; about what I plan to do and what I would like to achieve. I also look back to what the previous year presented – it’s highlights and more.

As someone with a big interest in cinema, I look back on 2019 and think about all of the movies that I saw, both good and bad. I think about how much I enjoyed Joker and Knives Out, and how much I detested Hellboy and Cats.

I also think about some of the awesome screenings that I attended. Not the regular kind – but the one’s that offered something a little outside the norm.

Throughout 2019 I watched a lot of movies and if you asked me about each one, I could probably tell you when and where I saw it. And yet, in many cases I couldn’t tell you much beyond that.

I go to the cinema a lot and while I count it amongst my favourite things to do, sometimes I attend screenings on autopilot. If I want to see a movie, I head to the cinema (usually just before the film starts), I watch said film, then I leave.

I live very close to a cinema (a two-to-three-minute walk), so for me, going to the pictures is something which I can do with ease. I don’t need to plan a journey, book a babysitter, organise screenings with friends – I often just decide I want to see a movie, and go. Sometimes it is merely an impulse thing.

So, when I look back on 2019, I admit that I have forgotten some of the regular screenings I attended. However, what I haven’t forgotten are some of the irregular screenings.

What I mean by ‘irregular’ screenings are the ones which offered something a little different. For example, back in April I attended a Friday night screening of the 1987 sci-fi action film, RoboCop.

RoboCop was being shown at my local Odeon as part of the Manchester Classic Films screenings – a series of film screenings which put old movies back in the cinema for one night only. Sometimes these screenings coincide with a specific anniversary, while at other times they simply offer up the chance to watch a film from days gone by.

Anyway, I recall this screening quite clearly because a). it was RoboCop – one of the best action movies of the ‘80s, and b.) going to the cinema to watch an old movie offered something a little different to watching a new one.

Sure, new films offer countless possibilities and the potential to become a future favourite, but watching something old (and loved), with people who have an appreciation for the film is a heck of a lot of fun. And who wouldn’t want to spend a Friday night (with a glass of wine) watching an old favourite on the big screen?

So, the RoboCop screening stands out as highlight of 2019, along with the Superman: The Movie Anniversary screening in January, the Batman/Batman Returns screening I attended in February, and the 4K Batman Anthology screening from May. All of these screenings were events – as was the triple-bill Star Wars screening I attended in December.

The Star Wars triple included The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and a midnight screening of The Rise of Skywalker. OK, so I wasn’t blown away by The Rise of Skywalker (I was actually rather disappointed with the movie), but that still didn’t detract from seeing the film as part of a triple-bill – a triple-bill that I watched with a good buddy of mine who is also a big Star Wars fan and someone I have watched Star Wars midnight screenings with since the release of The Force Awakens.

Image: ©Lucasfilm/Disney

We sat down at 6pm and remained in the cinema until 2:30am the following morning. In between films we chatted about our day, we each ate a Tesco meal deal, and we discussed our hopes and theories for The Rise of Skywalker. And we did all of this while sat in an auditorium with a bunch of strangers who enjoy Star Wars so much that they too were devoting eight-and-a-half hours of their day to back-to-back movie screenings.

After the screening, I came home and between the hours of 3am and 4am (maybe 4:30am), I started typing up my thoughts about The Rise of Skywalker for It’s A Stampede!. I didn’t take my blurry-eyed self to bed until I was done.

The point of all this is that all of these screenings are cinema trips that I remember vividly and won’t forget in a hurry. They are events that offered something different than just a standard trip to the cinema.

In 2020, I aim to attend a few more screenings like these and if you’re a film fan, I encourage you to do the same too. If you’ve never attended a midnight screening, but you get the opportunity to do so this year, then take it. Likewise, if your local cinema offers up a double-bill, a movie marathon, or an old school screening of a forgotten classic, then book a ticket and make a day of it.

Cinema is great, but it can be even better when you really throw yourself into it. Break from the norm and embrace what’s on offer.

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