In light of the horrific shootings at a midnight screening of the latest Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado, I have to ask myself if this will change cinemas and moviegoing in the future. Already reports are coming in that Warner Bros. is in discussion with several theater chains about canceling screenings of the film and increasing security. Needless to say with expectations already at an all-time high and well over $100 million potentially at stake in the US alone this weekend, one can definitely see that this is a monumental event in the history of cinema and sadly another tragedy in our nations history.
On one hand the opening weekend of one of the most anticipated films of the summer is sure to be a massive haul at the box office. That is assuming that most consumers are not frightened away by the tragic events fearing that a copycat might be inspired by the Colorado shootings.
As I digested the horrific information this morning I had to ask myself if sweeping changes are coming to theaters. As anybody who’s ever attended a press screening know, it is common for the studios to hire security to wand attendees and check bags before allowing them into the theater. While this is done to locate any potential recording devices it does also serve the dual purpose of keeping weapons and other dangerous objects out of the theater.
As the airline industry began to placed armed officers on board flights as a method of providing increased security, I had to wonder if theaters may consider installing metal detectors and employing so-called cinema marshals at theaters. They would be plainclothes men and women who don’t look any different from your regular cinema goer except for the fact that they are armed and trained law enforcement professionals whose job it would be to deal with potential threats when they arise.
While not to take light of the tragedy some people might say that while it was a horrific event it’s not like such occurrences are commonplace at cinemas. However the tragic and senseless nature of the massacre underscores the dangers that lurk in society and that something as innocent as as midnight screening of a movie can quickly be turned into a absolute nightmare by one demented individual.
As far back as I can remember I’ve absolutely loved movies and I remember being a nine-year-old child and going to see “Star Wars”. The film absolutely blew me away and inspired me down the path that I’m on now as a writer, reviewer, and media personality.
I would hate to think of how horrible it would be to have memories of something is magical as a movie marred by events such as what have recently transpired and instead of joy, have thoughts of pain, loss, and suffering associated with a film.
While some will point to the issue of personal freedoms being lost with increased security measures at a theater, I would point out that while there have been some very disturbing stories regarding airport security and overzealous screeners, many air travelers have admitted that they feel safer now than they did in years past thanks to the increased levels of protection that are being afforded to them.
I hope that in all of this that people remember the victims as well as the survivors who will be scarred for life with memories of this outrageous event. I feel it would be highly appropriate if Warner Bros. were to establish a fund to assist the families of the victims as well as assist the survivors who will all be burdened with funeral, medical, and psychiatric care for years to come.
Regardless of the outcome it is safe to say that the joy and wonder of the movies has been tarnished by this senseless tragedy.
UPDATE AMC Theatres has just released this….
UPDATE – FRIDAY 4:45PM CST: Contrary to media reports, costumes are not banned, but we will not admit guests with face-concealing masks and we will not allow fake weapons in the buildings. We want all our guests to feel comfortable at our theatres and we will be closely monitoring.