Today is April 8, which can mean only one thing for those of us who wax nostalgic for the ’90s, it’s Rex Manning Day! And with Empire Records turning 27 this year, the tradition is officially now more than a quarter-century old. For the uninitiated, however, the holiday may take some explaining.
What is Empire Records?
Empire Records is a 1995 coming-of-age comedy that centers on a group of employees working at a mom-and-pop record store in suburban Delaware during what turns out to be an extremely eventful day, to say the least.
After one employee named Lucas (Rory Cochrane) learns that the titular store is going to be sold to a chain generically called Music Town, he gambles away the previous day’s would-be deposit in an attempt to buy out the owner before he can sell. The series of events culminates with the plucky group leading the charge to “damn the man” and “save the Empire.”
The film was initially both a critical and box office failure — earning just $303,841 on a $10 million budget. But perhaps given the wholly nineties-ness of Empire Records, its anti-capitalistic message, or the all-star cast featuring a young Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger, the film has gone on to become a cult hit.
So who is Rex Manning, then, and why does he have a day?
Of the many, many spinning plates going on while store manager Joe Reaves (Anthony LaPaglia) tries to fix Lucas’s screwup, is that washed-up ’80s pop star Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield, Grease 2) is scheduled to do an in-store appearance to promote his new album, Back with More.
Most of the hip, alternative employees of Empire Records are understandably nonplussed with Manning or his new music video for “Say No More, Mon Amour,” which they play on television sets throughout the store. Interestingly enough, the music video was supposed to be only a 17-second snippet for the purpose of the film. However, the director Jordan Dawes filmed a four-and-a-half-minute music video, which he later released on YouTube in 2007.
Rex Manning Day eventually goes awry when one employee named Corey (Tyler) attempts to fulfill her dream of losing her virginity to the aging pop star. But when he humiliates her and instead sleeps with her friend Gina (Zellweger), after the two get into a fight, the store employees turn on him. “You’re just a washed-up imposter, man,” says Berko (Coyote Shivers).
Why is Rex Manning Day on April 8?
There is actually a significance to the date of April 8, as Ethan Embry, who plays Mark in Empire Records, revealed on Rex Manning Day in 2018.
“The reason we picked April 8th as the day to have the powdered/coifed Rex Manning visit Empire is because Kurt [Cobain] was found on the 8th of April, the day the music of the ’90s lost its mascot,” the actor tweeted.
Where can I stream Empire Records on Rex Manning Day?
Empire Records is streaming for free for anyone who has a Showtime subscription or streaming add-on. The platform offers a seven-day free trial and costs $10.99 per month after that. The movie is also available for rent on Amazon Prime, RedBox, and Vudu for $3.99.
Don’t want to commit? Watch the below Rex Manning Day supercut on YouTube for free: