Harrisburg theater

Harrisburg Mayor Dale Fowler (left) John Scott 3 (right) and Scott’s friend Michael Basham, talk Thursday night at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Showplace Cinemas in Harrisburg. Scott, a Carrier Mills High School and SIU graduate now living in Boston, is a screenwriter whose film, Maggie, will be shown at the theater opening today. Scott will be on hand for autographs and photos.

Nick Mariano, The Southern

HARRISBURG – Among the first showings at today’s opening of Showplace Cinemas is a film written by one of Southern Illinois’ own.

“It’s fantastic. I grew up here,” stated John Scott 3, a 1998 Carrier Mills High School graduate now living in Boston. “It’s kind of mind-blowing to realize I don’t have to drive to Carbondale anymore to see a good movie.”

Scott, 35, who still has family in the area, attended a Thursday night ribbon-cutting for the new, nine screen theater at Arrowhead Point Shopping Center. Roughly 200 people attended and were treated to one of two movies.

The ninth screen, called a Royal Suite, will be ready for use at a later date.

Scott’s film, "Maggie," featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin, premiered April 22 at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released in May.

The movie depicts a Midwestern father out to care for his daughter inflicted with a deadly zombie virus. Though the screenplay has won an award for horror, it has just as well been described as a drama.

"Maggie" was Scott’s second attempt at a screenplay, and in 2010 the Page International Screenwriting Awards gave Scott the gold prize for horror. The award recognizes new screenwriters.

A year later it was placed on Hollywood’s Black List, a coveted distinction of yet-to-be produced screenplays.

Ultimately, the independent film was picked up by a producer, paving the way to meetings with Director Henry Hobson and later Schwarzenegger.

“We asked him, ‘Why do you want to do this,’” Scott recalled of talks with the action film star. “He basically said he has daughters around the same age now and he can definitely relate to Wade, the father.”

Prior to receiving his cinema photography degree in 2006 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Scott served five years in the U.S. Air Force, leading to his other profession working with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope through employer Northrop Grumman.

Now preparing to direct another of his screenplays, Parable X, Scott said he is thankful to Showplace Cinemas for their support of local talent. He is also writing another screenplay and is working on a television series with CBS.

He also appreciates the access the theater will provide more audiences to film and entertainment, particularly with new releases focused on social issues.

“There’s a lot of people that live in rural areas that don’t get the opportunity to drive all the way to Carbondale or Marion or Evansville to see a movie,” he said, recalling his youth when going to the theater was a Friday night ritual.

For show times, visit http://www.showplacecinemas.com/.

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Nick Mariano is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Saline, Franklin and Jefferson counties.

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