Study: Nearly Half of Moviegoers Will Pay Extra for Theater Security (EXCLUSIVE)

Moviegoers Will Pay Extra for Theater

In the wake of two violent attacks on movie theaters, nearly half of ticket buyers say they are willing to pay more to improve security at multiplexes.

However, their appetite for shouldering the extra costs that come with installing metal detectors and armed security guards lessens as the pricetag grows higher. While 48% are fine with paying $1 or more for the additional measures, only 23% said they would pay $2 or more, according to a new survey by consumer research firm C4.

“Moviegoers are telling us that they’re starting to see the value of security,” said Ben Spergel, executive vice president of consumer insights at C4. “Hopefully they’re beginning to value it the same amount that they value Imax or 3D, 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 report comes after a gunman killed two patrons and himself during a July 23 showing of “Trainwreck” in Lafayette, La., and follows an August 5 attack during a Nashville, Tenn., showing of “Mad Max: Fury Road” that left a hatchet and pellet gun-wielding assailant dead. These killings come nearly three years after a gunman in Aurora, Colo., murdered 12 people at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

C4 did a similar poll on theater safety following the “Trainwreck” shooting, but this is the first time it has checked in with moviegoers since the Nashville incident. To get its results, the company surveyed 500 moviegoers from August 6-7. The study has a margin of error of 5%-6%.

Following the latest attack, respondents have demonstrated a greater willingness to pay more for added security. Only 13% of respondents said they would pay $3 extra for more security after the first attack, but that climbed to 19% after the second violent incident in as many weeks.

The two attacks have sparked debate about the need for greater safety precautions in the country’s theaters, but there are other factors to weigh before metal detectors become commonplace. Experts tell Variety that bag checks, scanners and armed guards could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and present logistical challenges. Last weekend, security concerns surrounding “Straight Outta Compton” prompted Universal Pictures to say that it would foot the bill for extra measures at theaters that felt they were at risk. The film centers on N.W.A, a band that helped popularize gansta rap.

Going forward, however, that cost will likely be shouldered by ticket buyers, Spergel notes.

“The issue is that even an extra dollar wouldn’t cover what you need to do,” he said. “People realize that they’re paying for security when they’re at an airport or a concert, but they don’t think about it when they’re paying for a $500 plane ticket. When they’re adding 30% to a $10 movie ticket, that can be a lot to take.”

Despite the spate of violence, moviegoers still plan to go to theaters. Only nine percent of those surveyed said the attacks would impact the number of movies they plan to see at the cinema.

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  1. Tom Bruno says:

    The problem is all increased security will actually do is check for outside food and drink and make going to the movies a bigger hassle.

    • Dan Conroy says:

      This is overkill just like the TSA. Why should we all especially our children live in fear that we need security to do everything. We are quickly advancing to being a 3rd World country where you see military and guns everywhere in your daily life, such as grocery stores, in front of banks and hotels.. I don’t agree and will stay home I can find other forms of entertainment.
      This is against our 4th Amendment in OUR Bill of Rights (READ IT) the search and seizure clause where they must be proof of probable cause that each individual has a gun to possibly shoot those in the movies. Not about something may probably happen. If so… close the theater down! Maybe we should not drive cars because more have been killed in auto accidents than have been killed in a movie theater.

  2. Al Black says:

    Hundreds of millions of theater seats are filled by American butts every year. Tragic as this is, you are very unlikely to be killed in a theater shooting.

    You are far more likely to die in the car ride to the theater.

    Resources are allocated on irrational responses more often than logical evidence based reasoning.


  3. Bill B. says:

    Well, if true, then half the movie goers can afford more than I. The costs of tickets and the costs of food (?!) are already so high that I only go to the occasional film anymore usually at the end of the year when most of the good films are released and this comes from a longtime, though former 3 to 5 times per week movie goer, which I miss greatly, though less as time goes by. Unless it’s a must see, it can wait for Blu-Ray.

    • anthnopology says:

      I’m curious that the very industry that brought to light the horrors of post-disarmament Killing Fields and Hotel Rwanda would be encouraged by some here to do the very thing that enabled those power-seekers to murder up to a million people. In BOTH regions.

      Yet “half of the people” would pay for “security” in a theater. Would that be ARMED security? Or Mall Cop Marky-Mark with his trusty walkie-talkie and his pepper spray?

      No security guard is going to take a bullet for me. Not for a dollar, not for 3 dollars.

      It seems to me that if you’re okay with armed mall police, you should be okay with me carrying concealed or openly. While you may have hoplophobia, that still doesn’t over-ride my right to self protection.

      Don’t worry. You probably won’t be sitting next to me anytime soon. There’s a ton of uncompelling cinematic tire-fires offered this year. A movie celebrating gangster rap and violence is this summer’s “surprise hit”. Watch that movie. How do they treat women? How do they act towards each other? Listen to other people as you leave the theater, and how they react. Sadly, much of it will be admiration and respect for misogynistic and violent behaviors, rather than condemnation.

      People open carrying or conceal carrying most often respect life – and the laws – and are thus not the problem. Attitudes towards the value of life and enriching or protecting people around you, rather than making them suffer, is the concern I hope Hollywood, if anything, charges a few more dollars for.

  4. grolaw says:

    Coments don’t reflect the fact that Variety is an industry standard publication. I attempted to bring the discussion around to the liability issues (and, bring into the discussion the Aurora theater shooting, an oversight on the part of the author). With the notice that these posts are moderated I presumed that if my post was published the conversation would turn to liability issues.

    In light of the moderation of comments, I took the time to draft a modest, substantive, list of areas of concern, together with examples of the relevant liability exemplars and suggested at least one method to address the problem.

    What passes moderation is neither substantive nor rational. I’ll refrain from future commentary.

  5. John Locke says:

    The movies are a terrible experience – do people still actually go? Nothing like being interrupted by random people for stupid reasons. Seats getting kicked, cell phone noise and lights… the movies cost too much already to put up with that. People seriously want to pay for terrible time and over priced pop corn? I’d pay “extra” just to be able to stream it at home in my own controlled environment.

  6. The fact that they are willing to pay to see the assembly-line pablum currently issued to cinemas indicates these pusillanimous sacks of meat aren’t too bright to begin with.

  7. stevensj64 says:

    It is simply appalling that this should even be a consideration in a so-called civilised, progressive society. That innocent moviegoers should have to foot the bill so that a few immoral politicians & weapons manufacturers can continue to make blood money on the back of an amendment that was of its time but is now hopelessly unnecessary.

    • Yes, movie entertainment should always come before the right of a people to protect themselves from a government which may stop serving them and start serving itself at the expense of their liberty. Steve, it’s not the amendment that his hopelessly unnecessary, it’s your myopic belief that good times are a permanent condition.

  8. Mads says:

    And what if Chuck Norris wants to see a movie? Are they gonna confiscate his Karate arms and legs??

  9. filmsharks says:

    Charge the audience extra for junk food at the concession stand. Nothing bugs me more than somebody chomping on popcorn next to me in the theater.

  10. shut up says:

    “Nearly half” …in one shoddy poll… in one region? Not to be rude, but what are you? Stupid? You want to create checkpoints throughout society and submit yourself and your grandma and your 8 year old to pat downs? Are you against freedom? Why not protect yourself and carry a weapon? Armed guard? Here in Austin… yes, Austin – many of us are carrying and quiet about it. Every theater you’ve been in. At least 5 weapons. I’m a pizza delivery driver in Austin, and have a .45 concealed when I deliver your pizza. It’s the only way. Not detectors. Gun control only restricts ownership of responsible gun owners. Has nothing to do w black market, which is where basically all of the gun related crime comes from, with the exception of odd lone wolfs. The church shooting took place at the 33rd parallel????????????????????

    • John Locke says:

      There are responsible drug addicts too. Do you want to take away their drugs? Probably…. people only feel the need to “carry” because they think other people are “carrying”. That is a paranoid society… so sad.

      • Chadwick08 says:

        Do I want to take away their drugs? First off; we aren’t just taking away their drugs, we are taking away their freedom and their lives by jailing them. But to answer your question: No, I don’t want to take away their drugs. I want to get them the help they need to improve their lives. Counseling. Professional help. And I don’t want to take away everyone’s weapons either. To complete your analogy; If people are paranoid, perhaps they need help with their mental illness. This is a real alternative to taking away everyone’s rights because the insanity of a few.

  11. Let’s consider revenue from the alternate point of view: losses due to liability.

    The Aurora Colorado theater shooting is already drawing lawsuits and, no employee injured in one of these incidents is going to file a Worker’s Comp claim.

    Connie Francis was raped in 1974 and sued her hotel for failed security. She settled on the eve of trial, taking $2.5 meg in 1975 dollars, and permitting the hotel chain to avoid the trial and further negative publicity.

    What’s called for in the performance world is a broad screening – exactly like the Hollywood Bowl – or similar broad screening measures like funneling crowds through metal detectors.

    Much as it pains me to say it, screening for weapons is the present state of this nation. The industry that does not address the risks promptly risks losing their market. The only way to deal with this is to lighten up the screening process with themes appropriate to the product. Some folks will be exempt and they are going to have a different pathway into the venue. Off duty LEOs carry at least one weapon whenever they engage the public. ID’ing them as they pass through security defeats the very point of having these men and women armed.

    Ultimately, the next Newtown/ Virginia Tech will happen. If it happens in a theatrical setting, the way that Aurora did, will it be enough to drive us all to forgo the big screen for the safety of our home theaters?

    • shut up says:

      Yes, every industry should put checkpoints in place… for your safety… or suffer the public wrath of not caring about people, or children.

      But yes, let’s move on to more pressing matters. Connie Francis, for instance…

  12. SoFar says:

    one more reason not to go to the theater

  13. Will says:

    This article will be used by the industry to justify raising prices due to fear. Good grief, Variety

  14. Reader says:

    I would pay for adequate gun control laws.

  15. Contessa46 says:

    It is a VERY SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS that we need police presence or metal detectors to go to the movies! This is all the result of lax gun laws, stupid open carry legislation and the NRA publically stating that we need this! Is the world upside down? What you will get ise,e NOT GOING TO THE MOVIES AND WAITING FOR THE FILM TO APPEAR ON NETFLIX. Hollywood should better fund anti gun legislation all over the U.S. To counter the NRA and their craziness. Start producing PSA’s for TV and theaters supporting anti gun legislation-state by state. If Hollywood wants to help the public they will collectively jump into this game and have a voice.

    • anthnopology says:

      Yes, blame the NRA. Their safety programs. The Eddie Eagle program that teaches kids who find a gun to not touch it and tell an adult. The only reason the U.N. hasn’t disarmed Americans is because of the NRA and other pro-2A groups. Because it worked so well in the past for Turkey, China, Cambodia, Uganda, Rwanda and others, hasn’t it? (No, the governments pretty much killed at will with those disarmed populaces, but don’t let me ruin your day with history and facts). Go watch some Killing Fields or Hotel Rwanda. Those are fine cinematic experiences that encapsulate the result of what you wish for – unarmed populaces against those who would seek power. I’d love to hear your theory on how the Khmer Rouge regime was able to rise up and kill over a million people. I hate print a spoiler, but it was disarmament prior to that that left people vulnerable.

      So I think Hollywood is actually very good at advertising why a disarmed populace is a BAD idea. It would be senseless for them to promote gun control, since even historical scripts that pass through their hands indicate otherwise.

      But I agree on one point. Hollywood should take action. How about they start backing it up by producing a work of art that doesn’t require killing someone with a gun in the script? You’ve seen thousands of people shoot others with a gun on the big silver screen. Stabbed. Impaled. Killed in plane crashes. Murdered with knives. Dismembered. Chopped up. Disintegrated by helicopter blades by merciless killers.

      How many deaths have you seen in real life where an open-carry, NRA member shot and killed someone? Statistically…. NONE.

      Yet, you want to take the guns out of a hand of a responsible citizen who might shoot back at some deranged idiot that will get a gun anyway and shoot up a theater.

      And you think a security guard is going to die for you? No maam. Take a bullet for your extra “Dollar” price hike? Hell no. He’s the first out the door, calling the police. The people with REAL guns.

      “Is this world upside down”, indeed!

    • many of these shootings occurred in “gun free” zones. yet you people keep screaming for more and more laws. none of which make you safer. Perhaps if Hollywood and the Liberal actors actually cared they would quit making movies that glorified gun use, but they don’t. you have Idiots like Liam N who think we should not have our right to own a gun, yet he makes millions playing characters who use guns in the overglorified hollywood manor. Get it thru your head, there are over 100M legal gun owners in this country, with over 400M guns. Guns are not the problem. The person who commits a crime with one is, but again, since we are talking about Criminals, They do not follow the law.

  16. Steven says:

    That’s not the question to ask. question to Hollywood execs is what will it take to release the film at home and theater much like what Netflix is doing with their movies?

  17. Lisa says:

    Ridiculous. $16 for an evening show is already a rip-off and you’re statistically more likely to die in a plane crash or win the lottery than you are to be killed at a movie.

    • No, you’re not. The statistical likelihood of crashing on takeoff in a commercial aircraft is 1:7,000 (about the same as your chance of being hit by lightning during a thunderstorm). The odds of winning a lottery (odds=statistical likelihood) are printed on every game piece. Typically, they run 1:250,000,000 and up.

      See, Innumerancy, by John Allen Paulos.

  18. John says:

    This is insane. I don’t want to walk through a metal detector and get frisked when I go to the movies. I certainly don’t want to pay extra for the experience. My girlfriend and I saw Straight Outta Compton in LA over the weekend and felt perfectly safe in the theatre.

  19. Alex says:

    When going to the movies becomes like trying to get on an airplane, people will stay away. Who the f**k wants to empty their pockets and put all of it into a tray to see George Clooney latest P.O.S.? You know there will be teenagers working those machines acting like TSA agents and that will repel people.

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