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Advertising / Front Row Joe

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Joe with Popcorn Penny

"We're gonna party, we're gonna rock!
We've got tickets to Cinemark!
We're here for the fun, we're ready for the show!
First in line is Front Row Joe!"

Front Row Joe was an anthropomorphic cat who served as the mascot for the Cinemark theater chain from 1988-1997 (with a return from 2004-2009). He appeared in various policy trailers for the theater during this time to teach the audience good movie-going etiquette. His trailers would also feature troublemaker Clyde and his friend Elton, who would demonstrate what not to do at the movies (though Elton would later make a Heel–Face Turn), and later added a love interest, Popcorn Penny. The trailers, produced mostly by Willming-Reams Animation of San Antonio, TX, were known for conveying their messages through catchy songs, and are seen by a lot of people as one of the sets of policy trailers that had the most effort put into them. A compilation of most of the 1988-1997 trailers can be seen here.

While Joe no longer appears in Cinemark policy trailers, he IS still seen on some of their print advertising, and as a mascot at promotional events as seen here. He also survived a bit longer in Chile, appearing in safety shorts with ACHS insurance mascot Segurito until 2012.

In May 2019, Joe received a redesign courtesy of artist Denis Zilber. While so far, he only appears on print advertising, the fact that Cinemark was willing to redesign their old mascot after all these years indicates that maybe they have some new plans ready for him.

These trailers contain the following tropes:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Starting in 1992, a lot of the trailers featured this. Notable examples include the video game cabinet and popcorn tub in "You've Got A Date," the machine and ball in "Pinball," and pretty much everything except the characters in "Starstruck"
  • Absurdly-Long Limousine: Parodied in one trailer. Joe pulls up to the theater in a limo with an extremely long front... but a very small cab, and the limo ends after that.
  • Age Lift: Joe was originally an adult but the current design of him incorporates the purple lanyard worn by under-18 Cinemark employees in the U.S., implying that this version of him is in his mid-teens at most.
  • Alliterative Name: Front Row Joe's girlfriend, Popcorn Penny.
  • Anti-Role Model: Clyde does every bad thing that the trailers warn theatergoers not to do, and always gets punished for it in comical ways.
  • Art Shift: The trailers by Willming-Reams Animation all used cel animation, with some CGI elements and backgrounds added in 1992. During Joe's return in 2004, the "Late For Showtime" trailer featured Flash animation from Happy Trails Animation that made it look drastically different from the others, and the other trailers used Joe and Penny in CGI.
  • Big Bad: Clyde is the antagonist of every trailer he's in, representing every rude behavior the trailers warn against doing. What little conflict there is in the trailers usually comes from his generally unpleasant behavior.
  • Bully Bulldog: Downplayed. A scary-looking bulldog appears as an usher in one trailer, but all he does is punish the bad guy, Clyde, with Amusing Injuries.
  • Character Celebrity Endorsement: A 1992 bumper had Joe and Penny promoting Mama Rugi's Pizzeria.
  • Christmas Episode: There was a holiday trailer in which the characters celebrate Christmas together. Clyde tries to blow up Joe with dynamite in a gift box, but has a change of heart when Joe gifts him movie tickets.
  • Cool Cat: Front Row Joe is a hip, dancing tabby cat who is treated like a celebrity and beloved by pretty much everyone except the antagonist, Clyde.
  • Disrupting the Theater: Clyde frequently does this and suffers punishment in the form of Amusing Injuries for it.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The initial advertisement doesn't name Clyde or Elton.
  • Fat Cat: Elton is a chubby brown cat.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Unlike the other characters, Popcorn Penny wears a full outfit.
  • Furry Lens: The characters are anthropomorphic animals, but they all act like humans, and all of them except Elton have humanlike proportions.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Joe usually only wears a purple jacket. He originally wore a necklace with the then Cinemark logo on it, but ditched it in 1990, at which time he also started buttoning his jacket. He also has a scarf in the holiday trailer, wears sunglasses for a brief moment in the "Hottest Ticket In Town" trailer, and in "Late For Showtime" wears a bathing suit and sunglasses before changing into a red shirt. Of the CGI Front Row Joe trailers, the 20th Anniversary one has him wearing the top half of a tuxedo and "The Best Seat in Town" actually has him wearing a full outfit. The theater ushers always wear only the shirts and hats of their usher uniforms, and Clyde only wears an open blue jacket. Elton averts this (due to always being nude) as does Popcorn Penny (as mentioned in the Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal example).
  • Heel–Face Turn: At some point, Elton stops mainly hanging out with Clyde and becomes closer to Joe. The transition probably happened in the "Let's Party, Let's Rock!" trailer, where Joe successfully gets Elton to toss his trash away after Clyde gets a hole sawed beneath his seat and plummets for failing to toss his- though even the trailers before implied that Elton wasn't really as bad as Clyde- the worst thing he ever actually did was try to sneak into another movie while his was showing. He was also sometimes seen snickering with Clyde when Clyde was doing something bad. However, he might have only been hanging around Clyde because he was the only one who could drive him to the movies or something.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the holiday trailer, Clyde puts dynamite into a gift box and gives it to Joe, intending to blow him up. Joe gives Clyde movie tickets as a gift. Clyde is so moved by this gesture that he takes the gift box back... and gives it to Elton. Elton opens the box to find popcorn and drinks. Confused, Clyde takes the box and looks into it. The dynamite immediately explodes in his face.
  • Love at First Sight: It certainly seems this way for Joe and Popcorn Penny during her first appearance in the "We're Gonna Party" trailer.
  • Mood Whiplash: Why the shorter trailers featuring Joe tossing the Cinemark logo at the screen were created — many people felt that having upbeat trailers before films like Schindler's List wasn't the best idea.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The pink-furred female ushers, the "Little Friskies", were modeled after The Andrews Sisters.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: While most of the characters are cats with near-humanlike proportions, Elton is a Funny Animal cat with a much more short, chubby, and exaggerated design.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The feline ushers, which overlaps with Amazing Technicolor Wildlife.
  • Product Placement: When the characters sing about the refreshments you can buy at the theater, they will often show boxes, cups, and/or logos of real snack food and soda brands.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Joe's return in 2004 prompted a trailer with it, as seen here.
  • World of Funny Animals: The earlier trailers take place in a world mostly consisting of cats, although there's also a bulldog, and a Funny Animal cat.
  • Younger and Hipper: Seems to be the purpose behind Joe's 2019 redesign.

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