empire-records-feature

It's Rex Manning Day! How a Forgotten '90s Film Spawned an Annual Event

If you’re a fan of the 1995 cult classic Empire Records, you already know what today is. April 8 marks Rex Manning Day, a momentous occasion for fans even 25 years later. There’s no denying it, the internet is obsessed with making sure Rex Manning Day does not go by unnoticed.

If you haven’t seen Empire Records, you should definitely give it a watch. It’s funny, quirky and every music-lover’s dream. Not to mention, it features a roster of celebrities before they were famous. But who was Rex Manning, and why does the internet care so much? What does it all mean?

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Empire Records stars Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger, Robin Tunney, Ethan Embry, Tobey Maguire, Rory Cochrane and Debi Mazar, among many others in what was a quintessentially ’90s ensemble cast. The movie follows the goings-on at a dying record store in Delaware over the course of one day, including an autograph signing by washed-up ’80s pop-star Rex Manning.

The events of the day are pretty wild, including an employee losing $9,000 in cash, a fake funeral and a customer arriving with a gun — and it all ends with a well-deserved dance party on the roof. While the main storyline of the movie focuses on the potential financial ruin of the store, fans of the movie focus on Rex Manning Day on April 8.

Rex Manning (played by Maxwell Caulfield) is your typical played out, sleazy, fading heartthrob, attempting to hang on to his fame as it declines. He has a following of mostly older women and gay men, which is evident by the signing’s turnout, but he also seems to have worked his magic on two of the store’s employees, Gina (Zellweger) and Corey (Tyler).

Many fans of the film can relate to the characters’ falling for the pop idol, as it reminds them of their celebrity crushes during their high-school years. Rex Manning as a concept is a very recognizable, leading audiences to reminisce about the posters plastered on their childhood bedroom walls and magazine cut-outs in their lockers, while also serving as a cautionary tale about what happens when you actually meet your idols.

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Ethan Embry in Empire Records: “Not on Rex Manning Day!”

So why is the internet obsessed with marking Rex Manning Day every year? The answer is simple: when you’re a fan of a cult classic, it’s fun to celebrate the lesser-known film you love — and what better way to bring something back from the dead than to make it trend on Twitter? Empire Records lives on through memes, which is ironic in and of itself, since the movie is so ’90s it hurts. The idea of a movie so dated (through the clothes, the soundtrack and the record-store setting) trending on Twitter 25 years later is amusing. The nostalgia of something as campy and esoteric as Rex Manning Day holds strong as a sort of inside joke, uniting the cult following of Empire Records.

The specific date of April 8 also holds another, darker meaning. According to Ethan Embry (who explained this in a tweet, of course), April 8 was the date the film took place on because Nirvana frontman and ’90s grunge god Kurt Cobain was found dead on April 8, 1994, one year prior to the film’s release.

Empire Records and Rex Manning Day are a rite of passage for any music fan, especially those fond of the music of the ’90s. As Embry’s character says in the film, “We mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t! Not on Rex Manning Day!”

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April 8 marks Rex Manning Day for fans of the cult-classic Empire Records. Here's why fans are still celebrating 25 years after the movie came out.

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