Dating the Movies: A Calendar of Film Moments

Laura E. Hall has burned hundreds of movie dates into her brain.
Laura E. Hall has burned hundreds of movie dates into her brain.

As we launch the first of our monthly dates-in-film lists, creator Laura E. Hall explains her nerdy passion for calendaring.

There’s something almost primally satisfying about that shiver of recognition when you’re watching a movie and realize, ‘Hey, that’s today!’” —⁠Laura E. Hall

Who doesn’t love holidays? From popular events celebrated across cultures to irreverent occasions invented by people on the internet, they bring us together in celebration and remembrance—even when we can’t be together in person.

With one simple question Mean Girls’ Aaron starts a meme.
With one simple question Mean Girls’ Aaron starts a meme.

It was the mention of just such a meme holiday, based on a date in the 2004 film Mean Girls, that sparked my interest in film calendar lists, a hobby that’s become half research project, half obsession—and one in which you can now participate, via this first of twelve Letterboxd lists to be published throughout 2022.

The scene in Mean Girls is now internet-iconic, memorialized in hundreds of GIFs. In it, high-school student Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) describes interacting with her crush Aaron (Jonathan Bennett), who sits in front of her in math class. “On October 3rd, he asked me what day it was,” she narrates. We see the scene play out: “It’s October 3rd,” she tells Aaron with a smile.

It’s the most mundane conversation possible, which accounts for its light-hearted embrace by internet denizens, who have dubbed October 3 “Mean Girls Day” —⁠a day to wear pink and post memorable quotes from the film.

The future is now back in the past.
The future is now back in the past.

October also features another beloved DIY holiday, created by fans of Back to the Future Part II. In the movie, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) hop into a time machine and travel to the(ir) future, arriving on October 21, 2015 in Hill Valley, California, a futuristic city packed with holograms and hoverboards. Thus, October 21 is forevermore known to people online as “Back to the Future Day”. In our non-fictional 2015, it was even officially marked by the White House with a day of innovative conversations about imagining futures together.

When I saw people celebrating these dates on social media, something about it tickled my nerd brain. ‘What other movies and television shows have dates in them?’ I wondered. ‘Surely there must be enough to make a full year’s calendar, so that fellow geeks could watch these movies in order?’

Time to prep that thermos of soup, juice box and PB&J sandwich (with the crusts cut off) ’cos it’s nearly lunchtime for The Breakfast Club.
Time to prep that thermos of soup, juice box and PB&J sandwich (with the crusts cut off) ’cos it’s nearly lunchtime for The Breakfast Club.

I discovered the book A Year of Movies: 365 Films to Watch on the Date They Happened, in which detail-obsessed author Ivan Walters documents a year of real and fictional movie events, from that terrible April day when Rose lost Jack (and world shipping lost the Titanic), to the specific Saturday in March that The Breakfast Club showed up for detention.

Walters’ book set me on the long path of film calendaring; I wanted to see what other dates more research would produce. Several years and many spreadsheets later, I’m happy to report that the answer is: yes, it is possible to make that calendar, and then some.

High fives for the last day. 
High fives for the last day

Filling in the year of movie dates hasn’t always been easy. There are hundreds of films about Christmas, the lead-up to Christmas, and the aftermath of Christmas, but other, less populated parts of the year can be more complicated to pin down. For example, the date January 18, 2274 appears in the 1976 film Logan’s Run, but there it’s named as “Capricorn 29” —⁠the date of January 18 is derived by counting the 29th day of the Capricorn zodiac, which begins December 21. 

For these monthly lists, I’ve selected significant dates from each film, avoiding spoilers where possible. I know that movies don’t always adhere to a strict chronology, and I wouldn’t want to force them to. But the research is fun, and there’s something almost primally satisfying about that shiver of recognition when you’re watching a movie and realize, ‘Hey, that’s today!’

You can clone replicants of our—or any member’s—lists if you are a Pro or Patron member. 
You can clone replicants of our—or any member’s—lists if you are a Pro or Patron member. 

It’s also interesting to see what calendar dates our movie-making culture values (again, see the glut of films set at the end of December), and which ones take on new significance with the passing of time. I’m especially fond of movies set in the then-far future that we’ve now caught up to, like Blade Runner, released in 1982 and set in the year 2019.

An event from Blade Runner—Roy Batty’s incept date—is the entry for January 8, and the other dates for this month can be found in the January list, the first of twelve monthly lists to be published this year, along with several more detailed (read: even nerdier) lists for specific cinematic seasons. They’re designed to be living lists, because although I have been feverishly keeping track of movie dates for a few years now, I know there will be many I’ve missed. The list comments are wide open for your contributions!

Happy 2022, and may this be your best movie-watching year yet.


Laura E. Hall is a writer and artist creating games, puzzles, mysteries, alternate-reality games, narrative design and immersive storytelling experiences in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of ‘Katamari Damacy’ for Boss Fight Books and ‘Planning Your Escape’ for Simon & Schuster.

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