Too much security at movie theaters?

posted by Patrick Crowley on November 8, 2005 at 3:57 am

Politech has an interesting report about increasing levels of movie theater security:

I wonder what kind of dystopian cyberpunk future we live in when you are physically searched before entering a movie theatre.

Last night (November 3rd), my girlfriend brought me along to see a screening of Derailed at the Paramount theatre in Toronto, which she had to review for a magazine she works for. The lineup for the screening was unusually long, as I think they also fill seats at press screenngs with radio call-in winners, who in hindsight, might have accepted such poor treatment in exchange for the ostensible privilege of paying for $30 worth of parking and fast food at a free $13 movie.

Anyway, the line was moving slowly because they were asking customers to raise their arms so that they could be electronically frisked with a metal detector, and women’s purses were being searched by uniformed security guards. Try to remember that this is Toronto, Canada we’re talking about here, not New York, Tel Aviv or London.

People who submitted to the search (everyone from what I could tell) had their cellphones taken from them and checked at a table set up in front of the theatre and they were given a ticket to reclaim it when they left.

PoliTech: How the MPAA killed the movie theater experience: a first-hand report

Comments (8)

IanJudge
IanJudge on November 8, 2005 at 5:11 am

I think that this person was subjected to this search because it was some kind of advance screening before the movie’s release date, so they took extra precaution to stop any chance of someone videotaping the movie for pirated release.

This was probably not done for security (i.e. terrorism, as is implied above) but to stop the pirating of movies, which is a big focus of the MPAA, and is a giant problem for the movie business, theaters included. An extra search of patrons at pre-release screenings is quite common today, because so many illegal copies have been made at such screenings.

I doubt any regular movie goer will ever have to deal with this on a normal night at the show.

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on November 8, 2005 at 5:19 am

S.O.P. for advance studio screenings – the writer must not go to many of them if this seemed unusual.

gsmurph
gsmurph on November 8, 2005 at 8:02 am

And we sail on and on to a police state…

bamtino
bamtino on November 8, 2005 at 12:30 pm

Mr. Judge and Mr. Apruzzese, both being in the exhibition business, are right on the money. The writer was attending an advance screening of a “security print,” so-called due to the extra security which not only patrons are subjected to, but which actually accompanies the 35mm print itself. In such instances, theatre personnel are also subjected to similar procedures and a security guard actually keeps the print within sight during its entire time at the theatre (signing for it upon delivery, witnessing the ‘build’ performed by the projectionist, sitting in the darkened projection booth throughout the presentation, witnessing the projectionist ‘tear it down,’ and seeing to it that the print is turned over to the proper courier afterwords).
Again, this is completely to do with anti-piracy concerns, not safety issues (still a bit over the top in my opinion!), and is not remotely standard movie-going practice. Let’s please avoid making this into yet another, “The reason people aren’t going to the movies is…” story.

qwo06
qwo06 on November 8, 2005 at 4:36 pm

I work at the Paramount theatre, do not blame the theatre management for the security at the advance screenings. Film companies does the hiring of the security guards. The only time the management hires security guards are weekends to keep troublemakers out.

William
William on November 9, 2005 at 2:32 am

As many other people have posted “the writer must not go to many of them if this seemed unusual”.
I handle many advance screenings for the studios, press and the guilds here in NYC. Those security procedures are quite common in many advance screenings in other cities other than New York, Los Angeles. I handle screenings as much as a year before release for Post-Production and the studios sometimes start press screenings 6 months before release for “A” list press. And as Mr. Farley has posted is all true, but I don’t let them sit in my booth. Also don’t forget the night vision they also use during the screenings. This is all done for anti-piracy.

carolgrau
carolgrau on November 9, 2005 at 4:53 am

Oh so true, I have had the idiots wanting to come in my booth to check for tiny cameras on my projectors. When I say no they go nuts. I know this is for anti piracy, but it seems sometimes they get a little carried away,and half the garbage coming out of the studios now adays you would have to be pretty hard up to want to steal. Let us keep one thing in mind, they should pay more attention to what people are carring in during the regular shows. I worked a theatre where the ushers let people carry in suitcases, and big backpacks. All it would take was one explosion of any kind
, and that would be the end of the theatre industry as we know it.
Norelco

carolgrau
carolgrau on November 9, 2005 at 4:54 am

Oh so true, I have had the idiots wanting to come in my booth to check for tiny cameras on my projectors. When I say no they go nuts. I know this is for anti piracy, but it seems sometimes they get a little carried away,and half the garbage coming out of the studios now adays you would have to be pretty hard up to want to steal. Let us keep one thing in mind, they should pay more attention to what people are carring in during the regular shows. I worked a theatre where the ushers let people carry in suitcases, and big backpacks. All it would take was one explosion of any kind
, and that would be the end of the theatre industry as we know it.
Norelco

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