Security on Minds of Movie-Goers and Theaters

In the wake of the mass shooting in Colorado, patrons still were buying tickets to the theaters, from Googlers to teens, as cinema operators reviewed policies and worked with local police.


On Friday afternoon across Silicon Valley—and perhaps nearly everywhere across America—people came, as they always do, to movie theaters on a summer day, but with a sense of sobriety.

 The Dark Knight Rises, the much-anticipated conclusion of the adult Batman series has taken a darker turn, with news of the mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater.

Images of the aftermath of the deadly midnight rampage that left 12 people dead, and 71 people shot were fresh and present. Customers,  theater owners and workers were muted they tried to grasp implications of the actions of the 24-year-old suspect, James Holmes, three states away.

"That was so scary, it was such a surprise," said Belinda Cairns, outside the , whose son was meeting friends for a movie day.

"It makes me a little nervous."

Like Cairns' son, movie-goers around the Bay still trickled into theaters Friday. Cairns was at the Shoreline Boulevard theater around noon, where the Batman sequel was showing, every hour on the half hour. Several dozen bikes could be seen parked outside, just a short distance from the Internet search giant’s headquarters.

Employees at the on North Santa Cruz Ave. said they've all received instructions on what to do in case of an emergency. 

Indeed, with the weekend just beginning and the powerful Batman sequel in its opening day, the National Association of Theater Owners said its members were working with law enforcement. There are approximately  5,700 theaters across the country, according to NATO.

“We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel,” said Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the theater owners association, known as NATO.

“Guest safety is, and will continue to be, a priority for theater owners. NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures."

In the United States, screenings of the movie will continue; in Paris, Warner Bros. announced it was canceling the Paris premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" Friday.

In Los Gatos, Camera Cinemas office administrator Moe Kistler said about 150 Camera Cinema employees—at Camera 12 and Camera 3, in downtown San Jose, Camera 7 in the Pruneyard and Los Gatos Cinema—had been reminded of precautionary measures.  

"The NATO has a long list of things we review to be cautious of copycats and what to do to keep our customers safe and protected during times of emergencies," Kistler said. 

Additionally, "From our local police, I've heard they've stepped-up precautionary measures at our local theaters," Kistler said.

A Mountain View Police Department spokeswoman sought to provide some calming perspective about so-called "copy cats."

"That was a completely isolated incident, and copy cats are more the stuff of movies than reality," said Liz Wylie, public information officer for the Mountain View Police Department.

“They are so incredibly rare in situations like this that people should not alter their plans or behavior," she said.

"We already do frequent patrol checks of the movie theater parking lots and will continue to do so. "

Art Cohen, owner of BlueLight Cinemas in San Jose said he believes the theaters “are 99.99 percent safe” and that going to the theater is still “probably safer than driving your car.”

“This was out of the box—unfortunately—a very disturbed person who decided to do something really awful that hurt a lot of people.”

BlueLight Cinemas already has security procedures in place, and has had constant surveillance since 9/11, he added. They always observe the behavior of patrons, he said.

“Obviously, we’re all going to be a little more alert,” he said, but there were no special procedures they would institute.

For one Los Altos mother who dropped off her son at Cinema 16 in Mountain View with Cairns' son, it was an opportunity.

"Anything we see that happens in the news, I use it as a teaching opportunity for my children," said Katy Drewey.

On Patch sites, users were absorbing the news and responding.

"I don't think it's worth punishing the public with metal detectors, security guards, new rules, etc." wrote user Watzon McWats on Watsonville Patch.

"I'd likely avoid patronizing a place like that as I don't like feeling as if I live in a police state. Sometimes you just gotta take it easy and accept the basic risks in life. It's not worth stressing over stuff like this on a day to day basis. Stress less, beach more."

Tony Lima July 21, 2012 at 01:44 AM
We went to a screening of the Dark Knight Rises (very, very highly recommended, Anne Hathaway steals the movie) mid-afternoon July 20. Sure enough, there was a police car parked out front. What a waste of valuable resources. The shooting in Aurora was no more caused by the movie than dawn is caused by me getting up in the morning.


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