Empire Records is a prime definition of a cult classic. The film performed terribly upon its release in 1995, attracting negative reviews from critics and fans. However, Empire Records experienced a revival over the coming years, and it’s still celebrated annually.

Every eighth of April, fans of Empire Records converge to celebrate the film via its star Rex Manning. This year, Twitter erupted with Rex Manning Day memes and gifs, as fans of the era celebrated the beloved film. Thanks to Twitter, people from this generation are scrambling to watch Empire Records to decipher the meaning behind Rex Manning Day.

Read on to find out who Rex Manning is and why he is celebrated on Rex Manning Day.

Rex Manning is a fictional fading pop star from the 1995 movie Empire Records

“But we mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t! Not on Rex Manning Day,” reads one of the most iconic lines from Empire Records.

Rex Manning (played by Maxwell Caulfield) is a rapidly fading pop heartthrob from the 80s scheduled to sign autographs at a record store in a small town. The excited employees at the record store have aptly named 8th April, the day of Manning’s appearance, Rex Manning Day.

For Rex Manning, the day is doubly significant as he is not only there to sign autographs but to also prove to people that he’s still got the X factor. However, the reality is that the Manning of the 90s is a pale shadow of the star that dominated pop in the 80s.

The producers didn’t stumble on the date 8th April. Kurt Cobain, teen voice of the late 80s and early 90s, was found dead on 8th April. “The reason we picked April 8th as the day to have the powdered/coifed Rex Manning visit Empire is because Kurt was found [dead] on the 8th of April, the day the music of the 90s lost its mascot,” actor Ethan Embry explained on Twitter.

Rex Manning actor Maxwell Caulfield is appreciative that the world celebrates Rex Manning Day every year

Maxwell Caulfield
Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Every year on 8th April, Maxwell Caulfield’s mentions on Twitter number in their thousands. Caulfield told The Hollywood Reporter that he finds the day ‘both heartwarming and stunning.’ To him, it’s incredible that a film that initially did so poorly is celebrated 26 years later.

“It initially eluded me because the film had been such a box office disappointment, so I didn’t give it the credence that it has developed over the years,” Maxwell told the publication. “It just won’t go away. It’s one of those showbiz oddities. 

Maxwell enjoyed playing the doomed Rex Manning, and he describes the character as ‘someone so full of himself, he is destined to take a great fall.’ However, he feels that if a couple of deleted scenes had appeared in the final cut, Rex Manning would have come out in a better light. Maxwell talked about one scene where Rex was talking to Coyote Shivers’ Berko as they shared a cigarette:

“They were talking about just hanging in there, in the industry. And Rex was imparting some pretty solid advice that showed a different aspect to the character.”

As for where Rex Manning would be now, Caulfield opines that he would be a judge on a reality show. “I think he would be a judge on American Idol,” Maxwell said. “I don’t think he’d thrown in the towel. He was a real trooper.”