Beyond Black Friday: The 7 Black Days of the Week

We all know Black Friday, the discount-fueled shopping frenzy that follows Thanksgiving. But there are “Black” days for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, too. You probably wouldn’t want to wake up early to wait in line for any of these.

1. Black Sunday

On Sunday, April 14, 1935, a massive dust storm swept through the Great Plains, the largest of the decade. The day came to be known as “Black Sunday” because the huge cloud of topsoil, over 300,000 tons of it, was coal-black.

Dirt from the storm reached all the way to Washington, D.C. Witnesses said “The impact [was] like a shovelful of fine sand flung against the face.” The so-called “black blizzard” even resulted in the press giving the area its famous nickname: The Dust Bowl.

Other Black Sundays: A large series of wildfires in Australia on Valentine’s Day, 1926 (and another in 1955); the disastrous opening day of Disneyland on July 17, 1955; and the death of Dale Earnhardt on February 18, 2001.

2. Black Monday

© JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis

Monday, October 19, 1987, is known as Black Monday—the largest one-day percentage drop in stock market history. In a single day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost a quarter of its value. Overall, the market lost $1 trillion.

As for why it happened, it’s essentially the same explanation we have for our recent economic woes: A lot of complicated market-speak, finger-pointing, and no clear answers. CNBC has collected several theories here.

Other Black Mondays: A hail storm that killed 1,000 British troops during the Hundred Years’ War on Easter Monday in 1360; the closure of Youngstown Sheet and Tube in Youngstown, Ohio on September 19, 1977, which left thousands unemployed; and the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and his advisor, Harvey Milk, on November 27, 1978.

3. Black Tuesday

While Black Monday may be the largest stock market crash in history, Black Tuesday is the most famous. On October 29, 1929, after two prior days of instability (referred to as Black Thursday and Black Monday, naturally), the stock market crashed completely, kicking off the Great Depression, the worst economic climate in American history.

In a matter of hours, the Dow Jones lost 23% of its value (just short of the nearly 25% lost in 1987) and a whole year’s worth of gains. Savings were wiped out overnight and $100 billion completely disappeared from the nation’s economy, which took a decade to recover.

Other Black Tuesdays: The November 22, 2011, South African protests against the “Protection of Information Bill”; the September 21, 1931, Estevan Riot in Saskatchewan, where three strikers were killed by RCMP officers; and the death of Fred Evans on November 12, 1912, the first worker killed during a strike in New Zealand’s history.

4. Black Wednesday

Bar image via Shutterstock

The day after Thanksgiving isn’t the only “Black” day in that week. Wednesday is becoming notorious too, albeit for a much sadder reason. Before college and high school students spend Thanksgiving weekend with their families, many spend the night out drinking with friends.

It’s come to be known as Black Wednesday among law enforcement agencies, reportedly because of students drinking until they black out. It’s been called the biggest day of the year for underage drinking.

Other Black Wednesdays: This year’s SOPA internet blackouts on Wednesday, January 18; and one of the worst days in air traffic history, September 15, 1954, when over 45,000 planes were delayed due to bad weather and overloaded air traffic control systems.

5. Black Thursday

There were many dark days during World War II, but none was worse for the USAAF (the predecessor to the U.S. Air Force) than Thursday, October 14, 1943, now known as Black Thursday.

Allied forces had become aware that the German army had a bottleneck in its production of military hardware. Ball bearings were in short supply and a large percentage were manufactured by factories located in the city of Schweinfurt. The Allies enacted a plan to bomb the factories, something they’d done previously just a few months before.

Unfortunately, due to a combination of bad weather and strong German anti-air support, the USAAF lost sixty planes and 600 crewmembers that day. It wound up being their worst loss in the entire war.

Other Black Thursdays: The failure of Jay Cooke and Company on September 18, 1873, which was one of the initiating events of the Panic of 1873; and the Black World Wide Web protest of February 8, 1996, where major websites turned their backgrounds black to protest the Communications Decency Act.

6. Black Friday

© Bob Campbell/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis

The House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities, Congressmen tasked with uncovering communist sympathizers both inside and outside of the U.S. government, was once one of the most feared groups in America. Even the mere accusation of communist tendencies led to the immediate end of many careers in Hollywood.

By 1960, however, the group’s power had faded and the public had begun to find their tactics distasteful. This set the stage for the May 13, 1960, protest in San Francisco that became known as “Black Friday.” Students protesting the Subcommittee’s hearings were met with fire hoses and clubs, and 64 were arrested. Some also credit the protest with kicking off the idea of student activism, which would become a major fixture of the rest of the decade.

Other Black Fridays: The arrest of seven Anglican bishops for “seditious libel” by King James II on June 8, 1688; a hurricane near Eyemouth, Scotland on October 14, 1881, which killed nearly 200 fishermen; and the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. And of course today the term is used for the day after Thanksgiving, which was coined in Philadelphia in the 1960s.

7. Black Saturday

At the height of the Cold War, everyone looked like an enemy to the United States, and none was more threatening than the one just off-shore. For thirteen days in October of 1962, America and Russia (by way of its ally, Cuba) both had their fingers on the triggers of their nuclear arsenals.

Finally, on Black Saturday, October 27, things came to a head. Soviet forces in Cuba shot down a U-2 spy plane, leading both armies to begin preparing for war. Tensions on both sides flared, but hours later, with things still looking very grim, President Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev finally reached a diplomatic agreement to stop further escalations.

Other Black Saturdays: A very bad thunderstorm that coincided with the passing of the Articles of Perth in Scotland on August 4, 1621, which some at the time felt was very ominous; and the day of the worst fires in Yellowstone National Park history on August 20, 1988.

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Warner Bros.
19 Shadowy Facts About Tim Burton's Batman
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Superhero movies are bigger than they’ve ever been before, but we arguably wouldn’t be here at all without 1989’s Batman. Produced at a time before comic book movies were considered big business, Tim Burton’s dark look at a superhero then best known for a goofy TV show is a pop culture landmark, and the story of how it was made is almost as interesting as the film itself. So, to celebrate Batman—which was released on this day in 1989—here are 19 facts about how it came to the screen.

1. AN EARLY MOVIE IDEA RELIED ON THE CAMPINESS OF THE CHARACTER.

As development of a Batman movie began, studio executives were still very tied to the campiness embodied by the Batman television series of the 1960s. According to executive producer Michael Uslan, when he first began attempting to get the rights to make a film, he was told that the only studio who’d expressed interest was CBS, and only if they could do a Batman In Outer Space film.

2. IT TOOK 10 YEARS TO MAKE.

Uslan lobbied hard for the rights to Batman, and finally landed them in 1979. At that point, the fight to convince a studio to make the film ensued, and everyone from Columbia Pictures to Universal Pictures turned it down. When Warner Bros. finally agreed to back the film, the issue of developing the right script had to be settled, and that took even more time. In 1989, after years of battling, Batman was finally released, and Uslan has been involved in some form in every Batman film since.

3. AN EARLY SCRIPT FEATURED BOTH THE PENGUIN AND ROBIN.

When Uslan finally got the chance to develop the film, he drafted legendary screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who had been a consultant on Superman, to write the script. The Mankiewicz script included The Joker, corrupt politician Rupert Thorne, a much greater focus on Bruce Wayne’s origin story, The Penguin, and the arrival of Robin late in the film. The script was ultimately scrapped, but you can see certain elements of it in Batman Returns.

4. TIM BURTON WASN’T THE FIRST POTENTIAL DIRECTOR.

Though Warner Bros. ultimately chose Tim Burton to helm Batman, over the course of the film’s development a number of other choices emerged. At various points on the road to Batman, everyone from Gremlins director Joe Dante to Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was in line for the gig.

5. MANY STARS OF THE TIME WERE CONSIDERED FOR BATMAN.

The casting process for Batman was a long one, and involved a number of major stars of the day. Among the contenders for the title role were Mel Gibson, Bill Murray (yes, really), Kevin Costner, Willem Dafoe, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, Charlie Sheen, Ray Liotta, and Pierce Brosnan, who later regretted turning down the role.

6. TIM BURTON HAD TO FIGHT TO CAST MICHAEL KEATON.

At the time, Michael Keaton was best known for his comedic roles in films like Mr. Mom and Night Shift, so the thought of casting him as a vigilante of the night seemed odd to many. Michael Uslan remembers thinking a prank was being played on him when he heard Keaton’s name pop up. Burton, who’d already worked with Keaton on Beetlejuice, was convinced that Keaton was right for the role, not just because he could portray the obsessive nature of the character, but because he also felt that Keaton was the kind of actor who would need to dress up as a bat in order to scare criminals, while a typical action star would just garner “unintentional laughs” in the suit. Burton ultimately won the argument, and Keaton got an iconic role for two films.

7. JACK NICHOLSON WAS THE FIRST CHOICE FOR THE JOKER, BUT HE WASN’T THE ONLY CHOICE.

From the beginning, Uslan concluded that Jack Nicholson was the perfect choice to play The Joker, and was “walking on air” when the production finally cast him. He certainly wasn’t the only actor considered, though. Among Burton’s considerations were Willem Dafoe, James Woods, Brad Dourif, David Bowie, and Robin Williams (who really wanted the part).

8. TIM BURTON WON JACK NICHOLSON OVER WITH HORSEBACK RIDING.

When Nicholson was asked to discuss playing The Joker, he invited Burton and producer Peter Guber to visit him in Aspen for some horseback riding. When Burton learned that was what they’d be doing, he told Guber “I don’t ride,” to which Guber replied “You do today!” So, a “terrified” Burton got on a horse and rode alongside Nicholson, and the star ultimately agreed to play the Clown Prince of Crime.

9. EDDIE MURPHY WAS ONCE CONSIDERED TO PLAY ROBIN.

Though the character of Robin was ultimately scrapped because it simply didn’t feel like there was room for him in the film, he did appear in early drafts of the script, and at one point producers considered casting Eddie Murphy—who, you must remember, was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s—for the role. 

10. SEAN YOUNG WAS THE ORIGINAL VICKI VALE.

Burton initially cast Blade Runner star Sean Young as acclaimed photographer Vicki Vale, who would become Bruce Wayne’s love interest. Young was part of the pre-production process on Batman for several weeks until, while practicing horseback riding for a scene that was ultimately cut, she fell from her horse and was seriously injured. With just a week to go until shooting, producers had to act fast to find a replacement, and decided on Kim Basinger, who essentially joined the production overnight.

11. TIM BURTON WASN’T OFFICIALLY HIRED UNTIL BEETLEJUICE BECAME A HIT.

Though he was basically already a part of the production, Burton wasn’t officially the director of Batman right away. Warner Bros. showed interest in him working on the film after the success of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, but according to Burton they only officially hired him after the first weekend grosses for Beetlejuice came in.

“They were just waiting to see how Beetlejuice did,” Burton said. “They didn’t want to give me that movie unless Beetlejuice was going to be okay. They wouldn’t say that, but that was really the way it was.”

12. DANNY ELFMAN THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO BE FIRED UNTIL HE PLAYED THE MAIN THEME.

Danny Elfman is now considered one of our great movie composers, but at the time Batman was released he didn’t have any blockbuster credits to his name. He recalls meeting with Burton (with whom he had worked on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) and producer Jon Peters to go over some of the music he’d already written for the film, and feeling “a lot of skepticism” over whether he should be the composer for Batman. It wasn’t until Burton said “Play the march,” and Elfman went into what would become the opening credits theme for the film, that he won Peters over.

“Jon jumped out of his chair, really just almost started dancing around the room,” Elfman said.

13. THE JOKER WASN’T ALWAYS GOING TO KILL BATMAN’S PARENTS.

In the final film, The Joker (then named Jack Napier) is revealed to be the gangster who guns down Bruce Wayne’s parents in the streets of Gotham City. It’s a twist that some comic book fans still dislike, and according to screenwriter Sam Hamm, it definitely wasn’t his fault.

“That was something that Tim had wanted from early on, and I had a bunch of arguments with him and wound up talking him out of it for as long as I was on the script. But, once the script went into production, there was a writer’s strike underway, and so I wasn’t able to be with the production as it was shooting over in London, and they brought in other people.”

Hamm also emphasizes that it was also not his idea to show Alfred letting Vicki Vale into the Batcave.

14. THE CLIMACTIC SCENE WAS WRITTEN MIDWAY THROUGH SHOOTING.

Though much of the film is still derived from Hamm’s script, rewrites continued to happen during shooting, and one of them involved the final confrontation between Batman and The Joker in a Gotham City clock tower. According to co-star Robert Wuhl, the climax was inspired by Jack Nicholson and Jon Peters, who went to see a production of The Phantom of the Opera midway through filming and watched as the Phantom made his final stand in a tower. Together, they somehow determined that a final fight in the tower was what Batman needed.

“The next day, they started writing that scene … the whole ending in the tower,” Wuhl said.

15. MICHAEL KEATON’S BATMAN MOVEMENTS WERE INSPIRED BY THE RESTRICTIONS OF THE COSTUME.

Batman fans still love to make jokes about the original costume, and Michael Keaton’s inability to turn his head (there’s even a dig at that in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight), but the restrictions of the costume actually inspired how Keaton performed as the Dark Knight. In 2014, Keaton revealed that his performance as Batman was heavily influenced by a moment when, while trying to actually turn his head in the suit, he ended up ripping it.

“It really came out of the first time I had to react to something, and this thing was stuck to my face and somebody says something to Batman and I go like this [turning his head] and the whole thing goes, [rriipp]! There was a big f***ing hole over here,” he said. “So I go, well, I've got to get around that, because we've got to shoot this son of a bitch, so I go, 'You know what, Tim [Burton]? He moves like this [like a statue]!’”

“I'm feeling really scared, and then it hit me—I thought, 'Oh, this is perfect! This is perfect.' I mean, this is, like, designed for this kind of really unusual dude, the Bruce Wayne guy, the guy who has this other personality that's really dark and really alone, and really kind of depressed. This is it.”

16. GOTHAM CITY WAS REAL, AND IT WAS EXPENSIVE.

Production designer Anton Furst put a lot of work into the incredibly influential designs for the film’s version of Gotham City, and the production was committed to making them pay off. The production ultimately spent more than $5 million to transform the backlot of London’s Pinewood Studios into Gotham City, and you can see the dedication to practical effects work in the final film.

17. PRINCE WAS PART OF THE PRODUCTION EVEN BEFORE HE JOINED IT.

Batman famously features original songs by Prince, who wrote so much new material for the production that he basically produced a full album. Even before the Purple One was drafted to write for the film, though, he was influencing it. Burton played Prince songs on set during the parade sequence and the Joker’s rampage through the museum.

18. THE FILM’S MARKETING WAS SO EFFECTIVE THAT IT INSPIRED CRIMES.

By the time Batman was actually on its way to release, it was becoming a phenomenon, and the marketing for the film was inspiring a frenzy among fans. People were buying tickets to other films just to see the first trailer, and selling bootleg copies of the early footage. The poster, featuring the iconic logo, was so popular that, according to Uslan, people were breaking into bus stations just to steal it.

19. IT WAS A BOX OFFICE LANDMARK.

Though studio executives resisted the idea of a “dark” Batman movie for years, the film ultimately set a new standard for box office success. It was the first film to ever hit $100 million in 10 days, the biggest film in Warner Bros.’ history at the time, and the box office’s biggest earner of 1989—and that’s not even counting the massive toy and merchandising sales it generated.

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