John Cronin awarded 2020 National Cinema Pioneer of the Year

John Cronin.

Film industry stalwart John Cronin has joined the likes of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Russell Boyd and producers Jill Robb and Patricia Lovell in being named The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers’ National Cinema Pioneer of the Year.

Designed to recognise extraordinary achievements and contributions to the cinema industry, the 2020 award was presented in a ceremony in Adelaide on Sunday evening.

Cronin, who retired in 2017 after a more than 50 year career, tells IF he is “delighted” to have received the honour, having been nominated twice previously.

“When I lost the last time, I began to think that I probably wouldn’t get nominated again,” he says.

“My wife, who passed away in July, always used to ask me why other people got awards and I didn’t, so I’m glad my friends got together to make this happen.

“It’s good that I’m able to put it on a bookcase in my living room, rather than a drawer in my office.”

Having first started working for Hoyts at 14, Cronin left the cinema industry briefly to manage a record store and undertake a sales manager/announcer role at 5AU Whyalla, before returning to carve out a successful career in marketing and promotions, working for Adelaide’s Clifford Theatre Circuit and also Roadshow.

He would eventually go back to Hoyts, where he spent time as promotions manager for SA and WA and advertising manager for Victoria and Tasmania.

Throughout his career, he has promoted films such Alvin Purple, Star Wars, The Man from Snowy River, Phar Lap, Careful He Might Hear You, Crocodile Dundee, Malcolm, The Year My Voice Broke, The Light Horseman, Australia, Titanic and Avatar, as well as many of the Bond titles.

John Cronin and Anne Wills.

Later on, he established his own marketing and publicity consultancy, in addition to managing Capri Theatre with his wife, and introducing South Australia to the local weekly television movie show Clapperboard, which received a TV Week Logie Award for Best Local Show in 1981.

Cronin currently serves president of the SA Australian Cinema Pioneers and still volunteers his time at the Capri Theatre, staging regular special Nostalgia Fundraising events.

He was presented the award on Sunday by by Anne Wills, with whom he attended the 2005 Academy Awards – a night he identifies as a career highlight.

“It was just like going to a live theatre show,” he says.

“Once I got into the venue, I didn’t move because so many of the people I had watched on screen were presenting.

“I got to see Julia Roberts, Barbra Streisand, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, and many more.

“It was a very exciting time.”

Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers president Russell Anderson says Cronin has been blessed with the “rare” talent of creativity and acumen.

“John is highly respected throughout the cinema industry for his integrity and contributions to marketing and promoting film, particularly Australian films,” he says.

“Admired for his career and ongoing support of the industry through his work with the South Australia Benevolent Society and various volunteering, John is a legendary film showman and a fitting recipient of the Society’s highest honour.”