Movie-going may never be the same.
Since the days of silent and black and white films, theaters have always been a place for Americans to escape — from economic downturns, the stresses of war, and even from the heat.
But the tragic shooting at a movie theater outside Denver early Friday morning may forever change the carefree way movie fans buy buckets of popcorn and pick their seats. The shooter who opened fire on a theater packed with avid Batman fans took advantage of excitement for high-octane special effects to delay the reaction to his horrific actions.
Now theaters, security teams, and police departments are trying to respond to help Americans feel safe in the theaters where they’ve always been able to go for a respite from reality.
Tim Warner, the CEO of Cinemark, which owns the theater where the tragic shootings took place, spoke Friday morning, stressing the chain’s commitment to security.
The big questions: How will this change theater chains security protocol? (Will we see metal detectors, like at the airport?) Will theaters change their approach to midnight screenings, which usually draw the most avid fans? What about costumes? Fans attending midnight screenings, especially those for comic book superhero films, often dress inspired by characters from the movie. (Police say the suspect was wearing a bullet-proof vest, riot helmet, and was carrying a gas mask rifle, and handgun when he was arrested. Would someone with that kind of gear been apprehended sooner if no one else was wearing Batman gear?)
We expect theaters across the country to step up security measures this weekend.
The New York Police Department announced that it will post officers at theaters throughout the city showing "Dark Knight Rises," “as a precaution against copycats,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. We’ve already spotted security guards outside the nearby Universal City AMC theater, where fans lined up for the 6:40 a.m. screening.
Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner and the studio behind the movie, has canceled the Paris premiere and accompanying press day with interviews, which were scheduled for today and tonight. The studio issued this statement:
“Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time."
-By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
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