Study: Audiences Want Metal Detectors in Theaters, But Won’t Pay Extra (EXCLUSIVE)

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Despite the recent shooting at a Louisiana screening of “Trainwreck,” Americans still believe movie theaters are among the safest public places. Three quarters of moviegoers say they feel extremely or very safe in a theater, according to a new study from research firm C4.

Although they feel secure, there are certain security measures that customers support. Nearly a third of moviegoers believe that bags and purses should be checked for weapons before people go into a theater, and 34% believe that lobbies should have armed security personnel and a metal detector. Fourteen percent of respondents pushed for armed security in each theater, the report found.

The study’s authors surveyed 250 moviegoers on July 28 and 29.

“Movie theaters are still up there as safe spaces,” said Ben Spergel, executive vice president of consumer insights at C4. “People really do think of them as places to escape and not think about realities of the world.”

Yet recent acts of violence have threatened to shatter that image of movie theaters as safe havens. The shooting two weeks ago in Lafayette, La., left three people dead and nine injured. It is the second incident of movie theater violence in recent years, coming on the heels of the 2012 shooting of 12 people at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. The murders have kicked off a debate about what precautions the exhibition industry needs to institute in order to prevent future deaths and injuries. In the days after the shooting, “Trainwreck” star Amy Schumer threw her support behind legislation designed to address gun violence.

Spergel thinks the nature of the discussion about Lafayette and Aurora has had an impact on consumer’s desire for heightened movie theater security.

“The media coverage has been more about the people who do these acts rather than where they are being done,” he said. “The conversation has been about gun laws and gun use and gun safety.”

Although a substantial portion of moviegoers seemed to want to tighten safety measures, they balked at paying more to help cover the additional costs of installing metal detectors and posting guards. Only 13% of respondents said they would pay $3 more for tickets in order to get those additional security features.

Analysts argued that the box office fallout from the shootings was minimal, and C4’s research seemed to confirm that assessment. In a follow-up study of 124 moviegoers, 85% reported that the shooting in Louisiana will have no impact on their theater habits.

Respondents ranked movie theaters after airports, which boast guards and metal detectors as the third safest spaces, behind their homes and workplaces, and ahead of their cars, stores or malls, churches and concerts. That could change, Spergel noted, and another tragedy may amplify the calls for more preventative steps.

“If this happens again or becomes more of a trend, theaters aren’t going to have a choice,” said Spergel. “They’re going to have to put in some of these measures and moviegoers are going to have to pay more.”

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  1. Eva Russell says:

    I’d be MORE THAN HAPPY to pay a few extra bucks to install metal detectors, WHATEVER IT TAKES. It’s a MOVIE TICKET, not an ELECTRICITY BILL. Besides, metal detectors ARE pretty expensive, & they’re suggesting to pay a few extra dollars for a reason. I find it funny that many people are debating for metal detectors in theatres, yet refusing to raise any money to make it happen. My question is: Do you WANT to safely enjoy your movie without having to worry about being shot? Or DON’T ya? That’s most likely not gonna happen if you’re not willing to pitch in & help out. Just saying!

  2. Movie Junkie says:

    I wouldn’t be totally against it if we were guaranteed that the “price hike” to pay for the metal detectors was temporary and that ticket prices would drop back down after they were paid off. Unfortunately, we’ve learned the hard way, ie: toll booths and taxes, that this usually isn’t the case. Additionally, I think that if a person is determined to do harm, they will figure out a way around installed safety measures. Crazies can be clever that way.

  3. PatriotArmingBears says:

    It’s cheaper and very effective to take the “no gun” signs down and allow those with concealed weapon permits to be armed. Mass shooter happen where people are disarmed and defenseless.

  4. Uuuuhhhh title is the opposite of the facts given.
    If one in a million moviegoers were insane (wanted armed guards) would you still say, “Moviegoers want guards”?
    Your article says more than 2/3rds of people do NOT want crazy knee-jerk security.
    Someone needs to go to jail when the media flat out lies in a completely provable manner.
    There are no consequences for printing lies, therefore we still have Republicans.

  5. DanMB says:

    Is it just me, or may there be another problem in the metal-detector-logic? So, you want to protect people, that are piled up like sitting ducks in a location. As consequence you “protect” your customers by installing metal detectors, where you actually pile them up in front of the theatre, mall, or whichever venue? How is this going to solve any problems? You’re literally just moving a situation you don’t want to have ‘inside’ the venue, to ‘infront’. To some operators this might even make sense, if they can shift liabilities from ‘inside’ to ‘outside’ (public street for example), but how does this solve the general problem?

  6. Contessa46 says:

    What, are we going to place metal detectors next in supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants? There are too many guns, too many people who should not have them and no one checking to see who is who! I want to feel safe at the movies, in schools and everywhere else. Let’s focus on getting mentally sick people help and telling insurance companies they can NOT refuse care based on some outdated written criteria that clearly doesn’t apply to everyone. No one feels safe anymore in America and its due to THE LACK OF GUN LAWS AND OVERSIGHT. More guns in NOT the answer. We have more gun incidents in this country that any ten or more countries put together. All this bogus information about being armed and ready to defend is such a load of crap. The talking heads in the media have ginned up fear so much that people totally u qualified to own and operate a gun safely are far and few between.

  7. Alexander says:

    When will people realize that making a place a “gun-free zone” is like flashing a big beacon to these psychotics and lunatics? They enter them because they know no one in there will shoot back. Schools, military bases (this makes zero sense) and movie theaters all advertise that they are gun-free zones and all of them are being hit by maniacs. Gun control is all about disarming the wrong people under the guise of creating a safer environment. Clearly it has failed and will continue to do so.

  8. Lisa says:

    Knee-jerk nonsense. You’re statistically more likely to be part of a mass shooting at a school than a movie theater. And placing a guard and a metal detector at the front of the theater wouldn’t have stopped Aurora or Lafayette – they were parked out back. Let’s stop making guns a growth business. There’s already enough commercially acquired firearms floating out there that every American could be holding one at the same time.

  9. Bill says:

    I can guarantee you that any movie theater that makes you empty your pockets to enter through a metal detector will see a huge drop-off in business.

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