In a frenzy, fans have bought so many late-night tickets for the July 18 opening of the next Batman movie that theaters in places like San Diego, Chicago, and even Eagan, Minn., are scheduling 6 a.m. screenings for those who can't get in at midnight or 3 in the morning.

Movie theaters have sometimes opened their doors at odd hours for their most highly anticipated films, say, an entry in the Star Wars series, and midnight shows have become part of the summer blockbuster ritual.

But all-night sellouts far in advance of an opening have come only with the near ubiquity of online ticket sales., for instance, reports well over 1,500 wee-hour showings for The Dark Knight in theaters that typically do not open their doors before about 10 a.m.

True, this is the second Times story I've linked to in as many days, but it sums up the situation pretty well. Midnight screenings are becoming increasingly common: So far this summer, there have been the usual 11:59 PM screenings for standard blockbuster stuff like Indiana Jones and Wanted and Iron Man, but there have also been midnight screenings for films like The Love Guru and Sex and the City--stuff that traditionally hasn't warranted an "OMG I HAVE TO SEE THIS AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!!!11!!" type of response. Next week, midnight screenings will start for this, too, which I just find so bewildering that I can't even put it into words:

That is the longest two minutes and thirty-three seconds I have ever experienced.

Anyway, the point is that The Dark Knight is gonna be huge, and if you aren't planning on having seen it by 7 am on its opening day, then, clearly, you are terminally uncool. Well, either that or you're just not buying into the studios' bullshit tactic of trying to make everyone see movies the very second they're released. Your call.