Shootings prompt more security, new policies at Utah theaters
One of Utah's largest movie-theater chains will be enhancing security in the wake of the Colorado shooting during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" that killed 12 people and wounded at least 59 people.
The Megaplex Theatres, owned by the Larry Miller Group, is increasing the hours its security guards will be working in most of its theaters from Logan to St. George, said Megaplex senior vice president Blake Andersen. The chain, the second-largest in Utah, has 169 movie screens in 16 theaters in the state, as well as in Mesquite, Nev.
"In light of this, we will have extended hours, and more than anything we just want our guests to know that we value their safety and security," he said.
Calls to Cinemark USA Inc., Utah's largest theater chain with 207 screens at 16 locations, were not returned Friday. The other national chain in the state, Carmike Cinemas, did not have a comment by Friday afternoon. The shooting Thursday night occurred at one of Cinemark's theaters in Colorado.
Movie chain AMC Theaters, which owns the Layton Hills 9 in Layton, announced security changes as a result of the shooting.
"We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable, and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings," the Atlanta-based company said in a statement.
On Friday, security was tightened at some movie theaters around the country during the daytime showings of "The Dark Knight Rises."
The New York City Police Department was posting officers at about 40 theaters around the city that were showing the film. The increased security was a precaution against potential copycat shooters, and also meant to reassure moviegoers.
In Washington, the Homeland Security Department held a conference call with officials from the commercial, entertainment and shopping mall industries to discuss what security measures they could take to prevent something like this from happening again.
At the Regal Gallery Place multiplex in downtown Washington, moviegoers trickled into an 11 a.m. showing Friday. Theater employees searched patrons' bags and purses while taking their tickets.
Megaplex Theatres have always used off-duty police officers and private security during the weekends and special events, Andersen said. Although he said security guards in most of their theaters would extend their shifts, the chain would not increase the number of guards for now.
The chain also will not cancel screenings in light of the shooting and will not change plans for future midnight screenings, a popular event that is reserved for blockbuster movies during the summer and holiday movie-going seasons.
Three of the Megaplex theaters in Utah were in the top 10 in the country in attendance for midnight screenings of "The Dark Knight Rises" Thursday night, Andersen said. The Jordan Commons complex had the second-highest attendance nationally, followed by The District in South Jordan at No. 4. The theater at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi also was in the top 10.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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