Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, I Saw 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' Before You Did!

Raiders of the Lost ArkImage via WikipediaThirty years ago this morning, I hopped into the car and drove to my job at the Lenox Square Theatre in Atlanta. I was the projectionist on duty for the 10 a.m. exhibitors' presentation of a forthcoming Paramount release, "Raiders of the Lost Ark." This closed-to-the-public show was part of a routine practice to allow competitors to view and consider a given film's potential before they bid money to acquire the motion picture for their cinemas. The process was akin to an auction.

Usually, anywhere from one or two to a couple of dozen corporate representatives were in attendance to see a bid screening. For "Raiders," high expectations had amassed. The 300-seat auditorium was packed, and the audience overflowed into standing room spaces. My projection booth was on the floor level, so I could step outside the door to monitor the film with the audience. I found a cozy spot to sit on the nasty carpet in the aisle.

The reaction to the movie was riotous throughout. I don't recall witnessing an industry response like that one before or since.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Special Edition)Indiana Jones - The Complete Adventure Collection (Raiders of the Lost Ark/ Temple of Doom/ Last Crusade/ Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
I was triply tickled. I saw the picture three weeks before the U.S. release date. I enjoyed it immensely -- and I got paid three hours of overtime to watch!

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" opened at the Lenox and several locations throughout the metro area on June 12, 1981. We played the adventure at our theatre until Christmas. I personally projected the 35mm print 16-20 or more times weekly for six-plus months. Three decades later, the film continues to unspool in my head. I see it. I hear it.

Where do I turn in my payroll?

I've got 29½ years of overtime coming.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" Original Theatrical Trailer via YouTube

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