Front Row Joe was an anthropomorphic cat who served as the mascot for the Cinemark theater chain from 1988-1997 (with a brief resurgence 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 HeelFace Turn), and later added a love interest, Popcorn Penny. The trailers, produced mostly by Willming-Reams Animation 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. Additionaly, the character does apparently still serve as the mascot of Cinemark in Spain.
These trailers contain the following tropes:
- 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.
- Conspicuous CG: 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"
- 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, Clyde only wears an open blue jacket, Elton is always naked, and Popcorn Penny actually has a full outfit.
- HeelFace 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 might have only been hanging around Clyde because he was the only one who can drive him to the movies or something.
- 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.
- The Other Darrin: In "Let's Party, Let's Rock!" the voice of the main theater usher was changed due to the original not being considered "peppy" enough. Amusingly, his new voice would wind up being the voice of Front Row Joe in the subsequent trailers.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Joe's return in 2004 prompted a trailer with it, as seen here.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: A lot of first time viewers of "We're Gonna Party" think the opening roller coaster graphics were done with CGI. They weren't. They were accomplished through a slitscan technique on a motion-controlled animation stand, requiring many camera tests and hours of shooting backlit artwork in a darkroom.
- You Look Familiar: Front Row Joe started having dialogue in his trailers staring with "We're Gonna Party." Once he did, his voice was done by the same person who did the voice of the theater usher in "Let's Party, Let's Rock!"