If you visited a Regal Cinemas anywhere in the country during the 1990s, then you probably remember the policy trailer that was shown right after the film trailers and right before the feature presentation. The virtual rollercoaster ride—with its cosmic mountain landscape, floating popcorn kernels, and giant concession—became an iconic part of the movie-going experience. Mashable reports that the visual effects artist who created the animation, John McLaughlin of Oregon, died this month at the age of 46.
Born in Portland and then raised in Milwaukie, Oregon, McLaughlin attended the California Institute of the Arts with dreams of becoming an animator, according to The Oregonian. After graduating, he began an impressive career working for LucasArts Entertainment, Tippet Studio, and DreamWorks Animation Studio on films like Shark Tale (2004), and the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, but the rollercoaster trailer remained one of his favorite accomplishments.
There have been four versions of the trailer shown over the years, but it is unclear if McLaughlin was involved with updating the animation as computer graphics and snacks changed. The sounds and backgrounds may have gotten more grandiose, but each new iteration of the trailer kept the style and feel of the one that McLaughlin created.
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