Cinemas reviewing, altering security policies after Colorado shooting
Local movie theater operators said they are reviewing their security procedures and making policy changes in the wake of a shooting at a movie theater in suburban Denver.
Shortly after the midnight showings of the new Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," began at the Century 16 cineplex in Aurora, Colo., a gunman armed with several weapons appeared at the front of one of the cineplexes' packed theaters and popped a tear gas canister. He then opened fire indiscriminately on the crowd, killing 12 and wounding more than 50, according to reports published Friday.
Local movie theaters also were showing the film at midnight to packed houses, theater operators said.
Chris Johnson, vice president of Downers Grove-based Classic Cinemas, which operates a chain of suburban Chicago theaters, including Charlestowne 18 in St. Charles, said his theaters sold about 7,000 tickets for the midnight showings of "Dark Knight Rises," including about 2,000 tickets at Charlestowne.
"That this can happen is just so depressing and tragic," Johnson said. "The movies should be a place where everybody goes for fun, to escape reality, to enjoy themselves at the show.
"Sadly, there are disturbed individuals out there who do unfortunate and awful things."
Goodrich Randall 15 in Batavia also entertained about 2,000 patrons at midnight Friday, said theater manager Jeremy Curtis. He said the theater has midnight showings of at least one movie every Friday throughout the summer, but none have matched the size of the crowds for the latest Batman film.
"Everyone was on their toes for this one," Curtis said. "We had staff positioned at every door because for showings of that size, crowd control is the key for midnight shows."
Friday morning, Johnson and Curtis were among those in the movie theater industry in talks about ways to improve safety at their theaters. Both noted that staff already checks exit doors before each screening, and their theaters are equipped with video surveillance equipment.
At Classic Cinemas, Johnson said his company was moving immediately to prohibit customers from carrying in backpacks and other large bags or wearing masks.
Curtis said management at the Goodrich theater chain also was reviewing security procedures, but had not yet announced any changes.
Both Johnson and Curtis said ticket sales Friday did not seem to reflect a hesitance on the part of the public to attend.
"I think the public will go about their business and understand that unfortunate situations can happen anywhere," Johnson said. "I believe our staff will be vigilant, and our guests will be, as well."
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org