Despite rise in mass shootings, 8 in 10 Americans feel safe in a movie theater

There's a big new movie coming out this weekend, and Americans still seem split about their safety in the theater.
Dec 18, 2015

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  • There's a big movie coming out this weekend, but there's no need to be afraid of heading to the theater to see it.

  • Despite the rise in mass shootings across the country and world — from the Paris attacks in November to the San Bernardino shooting earlier this month — people still feel safe going to a movie theater.

  • "The results are good news for the exhibition industry because 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' hits theaters this weekend and is expected to shatter records for the highest-grossing opening weekend in history," Variety reported.

  • Variety cited a new survey from consulting firm C4 that found 8 in 10 moviegoers say they feel safe in a movie theater, which is about as safe as people feel in their workplace or at a store or mall, Variety reported. In fact, Americans feel safer at the movie theater than at a concert (59 percent), a sports event (58 percent) or an airport (65 percent).

  • People still feel the safest at their homes (97 percent), the study said.

  • To find this, the researchers polled 500 people who had seen six or more movies in the last year and checked to see if their feelings had changed.

  • While many of the survey's participants felt the same or similar as before, some Americans do believe increased mass shootings have added anxiety to the movie theater experience, The New York Times reported.

  • For example, Denise Simard, a 44-year-old mother, attended a screening of "The Peanuts Movie" with her 8-year-old daughter. And though it should have been an enjoyable experience, her mind was elsewhere, The Times reported.

  • "She examined the other patrons for suspicious behavior, for instance if anyone was there without a child," The Times reported. "She scanned the theater for the closest door and the fastest escape route. She planned what she would do if someone started shooting."

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  • Most concerned moviegoers are worried that there will be an attack similar to the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting when James E. Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 70 others during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," The Times reported.

  • A deadly shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, that killed two people and wounded nine others also raised concerns from moviegoers, USA Today reported.

  • It doesn't help ease American moviegoers' nerves that "the movie theater industry has been reluctant to impose additional security, citing cost and added hassle for patrons, despite increasing public anxiety," The Times reported.

  • And Americans do want increased security at theaters to ease their fears. As C4's survey found, only about one-third of moviegoers feel movie theaters are currently doing enough, Variety reported.

  • "People aren't changing their behavior, but they're changing their mindset," Ben Spergel, executive vice president of consumer insights at C4, told Variety. "They're accepting things that maybe a year or two years ago they wouldn't consider."

  • In fact, moviegoers would pay extra — about 48 percent would pay $1 more — to see increased security measures, Variety reported in August.

  • "Moviegoers are telling us that they're starting to see the value of security," Spergel told Variety in August. "Hopefully, they're beginning to value it the same amount that they value Imax or 3-D, where they recognize that you have to pay more for a better experience. You may also have to pay more for a safer experience."

  • The chances of a movie theater shooting are low — even "infinitesimal," as Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore put it — but there are still some things to watch out for. Inside Edition spoke to expert Peter Marino, a former captain of the NYPD, about what people should do if they're in a movie theater shooting.

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  • "You need to remain calm and maintain a low profile, so you do not attract the shooter's attention," he said. "I want you to get down on the floor, get low. Keep a low profile, lay flat and conceal yourself from the line of sight from the shooter."

  • More importantly, moviegoers should always be aware of their surroundings so they know where they can escape to in case of an issue.

  • "Where you sit is not as important as what you do before you sit down," Marino said. "What you need to know is your surroundings. Before the lights turn off, I want you to know where your exits are, where are places you might hide."

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

Website: https://twitter.com/HerbScribner

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