After US shooting, high cost of more security vexes movie theaters

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

It’s time to bolster movie theater security.

The big theater chains have been slow to react after another deadly shooting at a cinema raised fears about security measures at cineplexes nationwide.

Moviegoer Melissa Holt took in a screening of the animated film “Minions” at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood on Friday with little worry about her safety. “If that’s something they need to keep people safe, they should do it,” said Holt, 42, a cinematographer. “I could see how you could sneak in with guns.” John Russell Houser, a 59-year-old drifter, opened fire at Lafayette’s Grand Theatre on Thursday night, killing two people and injuring nine before turning the gun on himself and ending his own life, according to authorities.It was July 2012 when James Holmes opened fire on a movie theater in Aurora, CO and now, almost exactly three years later, another tragic theater shooting shook Lafayette, LA. “We just make them feel at ease,” said O’Berry. “We’re here to make sure you’re safe, make sure that your belongings in your car while you’re enjoying yourself with your family, that those things are safe.” “I’m looking for people standing up, I’m looking for people that maybe moving from spot to spot where they’re uncomfortable with their location maybe.” He tells News 3, in addition to officers like himself roaming the area, most theaters have closed circuit cameras keeping an eye out and he said emergency response procedures should be in place, just in case. “This is kind of a new thing that the public is dealing with so it’s a good idea for every public gathering location to have some form of an active shooter protocol.” And he said although this most recent incident might still make some people nervous, he doesn’t think it should make anyone afraid of going to public places like the movies or the mall.

The National Assn. of Theater Owners and representatives from the nation’s top five chains either did not have a comment or could not be reached for a comment Friday morning. Some movie goers Fox 54 talked to Friday night in Columbus say there needs to be an increase in security at movie theaters and many other public places. I mean it is such a rare occasion it is one-in-a-million I mean how many theatres are there in the us that that hasn’t happened to,” said Jonathan Tucker. “Our matinée is full, and our 6 and 8:30 tonight are going to sell out so I don’t think this event is going to affect the Crescent Theater ticket sales,” said Morey. The chains — AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, Cineplex Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas and Cinemark Theatres — also had not released statements on their websites or social media pages. Maintaining a strong security installation at a multiplex could cost between $250,000 and $1 million annually, according to security consultant Michael Dorn.

Such a system would include metal detectors, X-ray machines, workers to operate those devices and additional armed security. “There’s a difference between having a metal detector at the door and actually having effective screening,” said Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, a nonprofit that consults with schools and other facilities about security. “My fear is that we may see theaters throw in metal detectors without proper utilization.” Representatives of the major theater chains did not respond to requests for comment Friday, but any changes that threaten to make the moviegoing experience less smooth would probably meet industry resistance. John Hickenlooper at the time of the 2012 Aurora shootings, believes there will have to be permanent security changes. “There is no question in my mind that there are meetings going on as we speak, talking about improving security and associated liability. Consumers are increasingly staying home, enjoying video-on-demand and home entertainment technology that has made watching movies from the living room an immersive experience. Several civil suits, which could go to trial next year, allege that Cinemark should be held liable because of inadequate security that could have prevented the shooting.

The question for the movie theaters (or anyone else) is, where is that line?” The implications are huge for theater chain operators and theater owners with the potential cost security upgrades — with theaters being significantly smaller venues than stadiums with higher turnover. However, this year, blockbusters such as “Furious 7,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Jurassic World” have lured audiences back into theaters. You have to buy them, you have to install them, you have to train your employees to be able to use them and maintain them,” says Davis. “You have to come up with new entry procedures so you don’t have huge lines at the front of the theater that turn people off. Although people are already accustomed to passing through metal detectors or other screening devices at airports and sports arenas, Dorn said, the nature of visiting a theater could make their use impractical. “At places like a theater, you get large surges of people in groups,” he said. “It’s not a steady flow, like an airport.

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