Before the movie it wasn’t an onslaught of annoying ads and extended clips for television shows. It was a slideshow with a mix of local ads and trivia, if you were in Portland you likely heard orchestrated music playing. Soon, the lights would dim and on the screen was a 3D roller coaster ride that doubled as Regal Cinema’s pre-show trailer. That clip played in every Regal theater from the early 90s to around 2004. Funny how that short clip became such a tradition, a visual queue that the cinematic experience was about to begin. It was perfect, better than the Dolby train or the various THX logos, it gave you the “okay, here we go” feeling we all experience before a film, and we have the late John McLaughlin to thank for that. McLaughlin passed away this month at the far too young age of 46.
I came across his obituary in our local paper, The Oregonian, I encourage you to hit the link and read about a life well lived and a deep love of film. The post notes his additional work and contributions. “John worked at LucasArts Entertainment and Tippett Studio, creating visual effects for Hollywood movies before landing his longtime position at DreamWorks Animation Studio. John worked on such films as Shark Tale, Kung Fu Panda, Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rise of the Guardians and most recently Kung Fu Panda 3. One of John’s favorite personal projects that he created was the Regal Cinemas preview trailer featuring a roller coaster in space speeding between soda, candy and popcorn that played before each and every movie. “
Thank you for your contributions to cinema, Mr. McLaughlin, and to the many memories I have of seeing your work before some great films. You did Portland proud. Our thoughts are with his wife, children, family, and friends.
Let’s take one last ride on John’s roller-coaster.