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How many years have you worked in the Movie Theatre Industry and how did you first become involved?
52 years. I applied for an usher position at a new theatre in Columbus Ohio. All jobs were filled but they offered me a 5 day job installing seats; actually unpacking seats and carrying them into the auditorium. I later became an assistant manager at that theatre and was promoted to manager when another location opened 3 years later.

What’s the best part of your Job?
Working with young people that I can share my passion for film and exhibition and work with them to understand the art of showmanship, even in this automated environment.

What is your fondest movie theatre memory?
In September 2012, my last of 34 years with Pacific Theatres, I organized a week-long celebration for the 60th Anniversary of Cinerama in Hollywood. From various print sources, our vaults, and private collectors, we played every 3 strip Cinerama feature (some digitally restored) and many of the single strip 70mm releases as well as producing a new 28 minute travelogue photographed in the original 3 strip Cinerama process. We had 12,000 people from around the world attend this celebration with Q&A’s with the stars of “Cinerama Holiday” (1955) and “SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE” (1957)  as well as the stuntman who doubled for Debbie Reynolds in “How The West Was Won” (1962) and the stepson of the inventor of Cinerama, Fred Waller.

How old were you when you went to your first movie?  Do you remember the theatre and the city?
I was 6 years old. My father was the Director of Audio Visual Education for the Columbus Public Schools. He received an annual pass to the local art theatre, The World. The film was a British release “Genevieve.” We saw it 5 times because it was free with his pass. In 1955, my parents took me to Cincinnati (100 mile drive) to see this sensation called “Cinerama.” I can still remember where I was sitting in the balcony of the RKO Capitol Theatre and the thrill of the curtains parting and that ride on the Atom Smasher at Rockaway Park.

What is your favorite movie of all time?  What is it about this movie that stands out for you? 
I don’t have a favorite movie, I find something interesting or fascinating in every film. My favorite genre is 70mm roadshow releases of the 1960’s. There was something special about buying your tickets weeks in advance and then the anticipation as the date got closer. In 70mm on a giant screen, with an overture, intermission, walk out music, main curtain and title curtain and the showmanship put into every action of the presentation.

Do you have any special interests?  What are they?
Movies, all aspects. I have visited over 200 theatres nationwide, have a collection of over 5000 one-sheets and 10,000 stills and lobby cards. My wife tells me I need a new hobby but other than Ohio State Football, I never found one.  (I worked for the Ohio State University Department of Photography and Cinema for 12 years filming anything the university needed, from afternoon football practices for coach Woody Hayes to a liver transplant at University Hospital)

Is there anything else that you would like to share about yourself?
My wife and I have two wonderful sons. Our younger, Adam is a projection technician for Reading Cinemas in Southern California. I produced 8 digital restorations of the original Cinerama films, did the supplementary narration on two, and have them available in a DCP format for theatrical release and on blu-ray for home entertainment. Using the original camera negatives, untouched for 45 years and saving these historically significant films for future generations is one of the personal highlights of my professional career.

What does being a member of NATO of CA/NV mean to you?    
NATO offers me a window to exhibition not found anywhere else. The information on new legislation affecting the industry is essential to running our business.

Of all the resources that the Association offers (seminars, scholarships, email advisories, etc.) which is most useful for you?
The semi-annual product seminars and e-mail advisories are the most important resources.

 

Have you ever wanted a set of Shirley Temple glass cereal bowls and cups? Well, John Sittig – Director of Projection & Sound for Reading Cinemas - has a set and he’s not willing to part with it. He’s also not willing to let go of his 1960 original “Psycho” lobby cards and his 1976 20th Century Fox Catalog announcing films to be released in ‘77. What makes the catalog particularly valuable to Mr. Sittig is that it initially announced the mega hit "Star Wars" as “The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller".

 

Mr. Sittig has been collecting for 50 years and proudly boasts of his 5,000 one-sheet movie posters and 10,000 movie photographs. He was bit by the movie bug at 7 years old and when in high school in Columbus, Ohio, he’d theater hop on Tuesday nights asking for the old movie posters because posters were changed on Wednesdays. Mr. Sittig struck up a deal with the theaters and he began to put up the posters for the new movies in exchange for the old ones. He was completely consumed with film as a youngster, as he says, his “favorite weekend activity was going to a double feature on Saturday afternoon.”

 

His collection grew through movie collector magazines and trading one poster for another. He’d actually have a larger collection if it weren’t for his attempt at being an artist himself. You see, as he says, he “unfortunately cut up the original posters and made collages.” When asked if he still had those collages he replied that it would have been too much of a sore reminder.

 

Mr. Sittig has an admiration for older movie posters, to him, they tell a story about what the movie is about. He laments, “Today you see a face of a star and it doesn’t tell you anymore about the movie than that”. One of his favorite movie poster artists is Richard Amsel, who signed his name on his posters.  Among others, Mr. Amsel created the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” poster with Indiana Jones slashing his whip and the poster art for “The Sting.”

 

Mr. Sittig says having the posters is a connection with the film itself. It makes him think about how the movie experience used to be with the double feature, cartoon and a newsreel. He fondly recalls the 70 mm road shows of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the art of the projectionist, and the quality of the presentation.

 

Does he do anything with his posters? Absolutely! Mr. Sittig creates wall displays with his posters in multiple movie theaters. He has a display of 45 vintage posters at the Angelika Film Center in San Diego of the top grossing films through the decades. He took 70 "B-movie" posters to a pop-up Angelika theater in Washington D.C. with titles like "Blacula" and “Battle of the Amazon Women” featuring the tagline “There's No Fury Like 10,000 Women.”  A couple actually got married in front of those! He had a display up of Black and White movie posters that were filmed in color. His favorite one at an ArcLight Cinema is of Drive-In movies. What's next on his agenda? Well friends, he'll be posting movies that were filmed in New Jersey at a Reading Theatre in Manville, NJ.

 

Mr. Sittig still asks for posters he wants from theaters such as "La La Land". He has 2 versions of "La La Land" outside of his personal home theater and will put up an Oscars poster in celebration of the awards.

 

Mr. Sittig has some advice for those looking to collect- don't do it for the money. Collect only if you're truly passionate and "if you keep something long enough and in good enough condition, someone will be really interested in it besides yourself."

 

For a guy with 5,000 posters, is there any other poster he could possibly want? "Frankenstein" is the answer. There are only 2 known copies and one recently sold at auction for $989,000.00. But that's just a dream.

 

 

John's poster wall at the Angelika Film Center, San Diego, CA



  

 * The poster wall shown above features the top grossing films
from 1921 through 2009.

 

THE 1920’S
THE SINGING FOOL 1928 starring Al Jolson Warner Bros. (The Vitaphone Corporation) $5,000,000
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE 1921 starring Rudolph Valentino Metro Pictures Corporation $4,500,00
BEN HUR 1926 starring Ramon Navarro and Francis X. Bushman Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $4,500,000
THE BIG PARADE 1925 starring John Gilbert and Renee Adoree Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $4,300,000
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS 1923 directed by Cecil B. DeMille Paramount Pictures $2,500,000

 

THE 1930’S
GONE WITH THE WIND 1939 Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $35,000,00
Walt Disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937 RKO Radio Pictures $8,000,000
FRANKESTEIN 1931 Boris Karloff, Mae Clarke Universal Pictures $6,000,000
SAN FRANCISCO 1936 Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $3,800,000
THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939 Judy Garland Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $2,900,000

 

THE 1940’S
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES 1946 Fredric March, Myrna Loy Samuel Goldwyn $11,500,000
SAMSON AND DELILAH 1949 Victor Mature, Hedy Lamarr Paramount Pictures $9,000,00
THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S 1945 Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman RKO Radio Pictures $8,500,000
Walt Disney’s PINOCCHIO 1940 RK0 Radio Pictures $4,200,000
Walt Disney’s BAMBI 1942 RKO Radio Pictures $3,000,000

 

THE 1950’S
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS 1956 Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner Paramount Pictures $43,000,000
Walt Disney’s LADY AND THE TRAMP 1955 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution $40, 200,00
BEN HUR 1959 Charlton Heston, Steven Boyd Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $33,400,000
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS 1956 United Artists $23,200,000
THE ROBE 1953 Richard Burton, Jean Simmons 20th Century-Fox $17,500,000

 

THE 1960’s
THE SOUND OF MUSIC 1965 Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer 20th Century-Fox $79,700,000
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO 1965 Omar Sharif, Julie Christie Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 47,000,000
MARY POPPINS 1964 Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke Buena Vista Pictures Distribution $31,000,00
CLEOPATRA 1963 Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton 20th Century-Fox $26,000,00
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962 Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness Columbia Pictures $20,000,000

 

THE 1970’S
STAR WARS EPISODE IV, A NEW HOPE 1977 Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford 20th Century-Fox $270,900,000
JAWS 1975 Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss Universal Pictures $133,500,000
GREASE 1978 John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John Paramount Pictures $96,300,000
THE EXORCIST 1973 Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn Warner Bros. $89,000,000
THE GODFATHER 1973 Marlon Brando, Al Pacino Paramount Pictures $86,900,000

 

THE 1980’S
E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTIAL 1982 Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace Universal Pictures $349,000,00
STAR WARS, EPISODE VI, RETURN OF THE JEDI 20TH Century-Fox $290,000,000
STAR WARS EPISODE V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK 20TH Century-Fox $260,350,000
BATMAN 1989 Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson Warner Bros. $251,000,000
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 1981 Harrison Ford, Karen Allen Paramount Pictures $242,000,000

 

THE 1990’S
TITANIC 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet Paramount Pictures $658,000,000
STAR WARS, EPISODE 1 THE PHANTOM MENANCE 1999 20th Century-Fox $478,000,000
JURASSIC PARK 1993 Jeff Goldblum, San Neill Universal Pictures $402,000,000
FORREST GUMP 1994 Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Paramount Pictures $312,000,00
THE LION KING 1994 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution $312,000,000

 

THE 2000’S
AVATAR 2009 Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana 20th Century-Fox $760,000,000
THE DARK KNIGHT 2008 Christian Bale, Heath Ledger Warner Bros. $534,000,000
SHREK 2 2004 DreamWorks SKG $436,000,000
SPIDERMAN 2002 Toby Maguire, Kristen Dunst Columbia Pictures $403,000,000
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING 2003 Elija Wood, Viggo Mortensen New Line Cinema $377,000,000

 

* Our selections here are based on domestic, first release figures, which are not adjusted for inflation.