Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Pa.'s new world record: 777 movies in a year

Zachariah Swope of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania racked up 777 screenings in a single year, landing a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Support Spotlight PA's vital journalism and for a limited time, all gifts will be DOUBLED!An urgent call to action: We've been challenged to raise $25,000 for Spotlight PA's work by next Saturday, and if we do it, we'll unlock a $25,000 matching gift. That means your gift of any amount will be DOUBLED.

We can't afford to leave this vital support on the table, and this chance to have your gift DOUBLED won't last long. Can we count you in?

You can also give by PayPal or Venmo, or by sending a check to: Spotlight PA, PO Box 11728, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728. Thank you!
Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

August 11, 2023
Inside this edition: Rugged state, early eaters, Raising Cane's, the music is over, diner for sale, and nonstop movies. Thanks for checking in.
🏆 TEST TIME: Test your grip on the week in news with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Property tax rebates, gender pay gap, and a pet alligator
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

Aliquippa, near Pittsburgh, has the only high school with three alumni in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. True or False?

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.

» One thing worth knowing: Pennsylvania officially has some of the most rugged terrain in the northeast. A first-of-its-kind evaluation name-drops our only national forest, Lancaster Farming reports.

» One time worth knowing: If you’re an early dinner eater, you’re not alone. The Inquirer (paywall) reports a study found Pennsylvanians eat at 5:37 p.m. on average, the earliest average in the U.S. 

» One place worth watching: Pittsburgh will be joining the Raising Cane’s club soon. One redditor shared an image of the national chicken chain's now-hiring banner on Pitt’s campus.

» One update worth sharing: Jay-Z's Made in America music festival has canceled this year's concert in Philly due to “severe" and unspecified circumstances. Lizzo and SZA were headliners. 

» One listing worth seeing: Anyone looking for The Bear vibes in real life can buy a retro 1950s-era diner in Harrisburg that is up for sale. It's listed at $50,000 and must be relocated soon. Check out this video tour.

The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» Child sex abuse relief won't be on 2023 Pa. ballot

» Property tax and rent rebate changes signed into law

» 5 takeaways from our mortgage relief investigation

» Penn State's gender pay gap among worst in Big Ten
Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
We've been challenged to raise $25,000 by Aug. 19 to unlock a HUGE $25,000 matching gift. That means your contribution will be DOUBLED. Help sustain Spotlight PA's vital reporting for the remainder of 2023 now.

Thank you to the 179 people who have given so far, including Robert C., who said, "You do the reporting others don't do for Pennsylvania." Join Cheryl and make a tax-deductible gift in support of Spotlight PA now »
A man holding up a giant orange ticket stub in front of a Spider-Man poster. The giant stub is a world record marker.
Zachariah Swope, 32, of Harrisburg, holds up a giant ticket stub recognizing his movie marathon at a Regal Cinemas. (Tanisha Thomas/Spotlight PA)

Zachariah Swope always dreamed of seeing his name in the Guinness Book of World Records, but he wasn’t sure which record he wanted to break.

That was until the Harrisburg man saw an IGN article last April about a guy immortalized for seeing Spider-Man: No Way Home 292 times in the theater. A big movie guy himself, Swope knew what his challenge would be. 

Swope decided to watch as many movies as possible in theaters and racked up 777 screenings in a single year (from July 5, 2022, to June 30, 2023). He broke the record at 716, watching an average of 16 to 17 movies a week.

With theaters nationwide thronged by the #barbenheimer zeitgeist this summer, we talked to the 32-year-old about his film feat and his next move. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length. 

PA Local: Break down the process of how to set a record. What did you have to do to apply and then prove you set the record?

Swope: I had to wait 12 weeks for my application to be approved. Once I got the guidelines to follow, they were strict. I had to have ticket stubs, two witnesses with me, and I had to take a picture when I was at the theater and have a manager for a signature to say I did it. 

PA Local: Who were your witnesses? 

Swope: The theater employees were my witnesses. They would check in on me. I had to stay in the theater from the beginning to the end of the credits. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink during the movie because it was considered multitasking. I could not leave the movie until the lights turned on.

PA Local: Out of all the movies you saw, which ones were your favorite? Which were the worst? 

Swope: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was my most watched. I watched it 47 times. I watched The Super Mario Bros. Movie 35 times. Those were based on how many showtimes there were a day. They were also pretty short. The worst movie was The Devil Conspiracy. I do not recommend watching that. 

PA Local: Was there ever a time when you got overwhelmed?

Swope: It is mentally taxing. There is a lot of watching movies involved. I had times when I allowed myself some breaks. I took a day off here or there from watching movies. I was able to push through it, especially when there were new movies that came out. I had support from family and friends.

PA Local: When you accomplished setting the record, what was going through your mind?

Swope: I felt relieved. I finally accomplished something. I grew up dealing with depression and anxiety my whole life. I was doing this to raise mental health awareness. 

PA Local: Tell me more about how you raised that awareness? 

Swope: I talk about mental health awareness on my TikTok live. I tell people to donate to charities. I go by the motto “Be kind to one another.” 

PA Local: Are you burnt out from moviegoing? Or do you still go?

Swope: I am still going to the movies. I have been catching up with the new releases. I am still doing movie reviews. It is a drastic change from the past year. I was going to the movies almost every day. Now I don’t have that. I am still trying to change back to normal life by not going to the movies every day. It is kind of jarring. I do not know how to describe it.

PA Local: Is there another world record you want to break? 

Swope: I always thought about doing something again for Guinness World Records, but not on this scale. It’s always in the back of my brain. I just need some time to think.

Tanisha Thomas, newsletter writer/reporter

Read more: Pennsylvania vs. the world — for Guinness records.

Our favorite quote about Pennsylvania — or from a Pennsylvanian — this week.

"Bro, delete this and bring back Ms. Biljana Electronica immediately. My rhythm is NOT glad right now."

A social media user on TikTok's wildly popular Eurodance spoof that starred a Montgomery County native who's since been replaced

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
A Hudsonian godwit at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County, via Elliott C. Have a photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
a brown bird dips its long beak into a lake
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.


Former NFL cornerback and Aliquippa alum Darrelle Revis became the third person from the school to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this month.

He joins former cornerback and three-time Super Bowl champion Ty Law, and Super Bowl champ and former tight end and coach Mike Ditka.

Thanks for reading PA Local. We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? 

Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan & nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.

Copyright © Spotlight PA, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box #11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Local.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

Receiving too many emails from Spotlight PA?

To change your newsletter subscriptions and frequency, you can update your preferences.

To stop receiving fundraising messages, you can update your preferences and select "Opt out of Fundraising."

To stop receiving ALL EMAILS from Spotlight PA, including all of our investigations and newsletters, you can completely unsubscribe here.