The Los Angeles Police Dept. and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office have increased their presence at theaters for Thursday night’s opening of “Straight Outta Compton.”
The law enforcement agencies are taking precautionary steps in response to the potential problems amid the launch of the film, which chronicles the history of the landmark rap group N.W.A and includes scenes of gang violence and police harassment. The film is also opening in the wake of demonstrations against police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., and the July 23 killings of two movie patrons at a Louisiana theater showing of “Trainwreck.”
“In light of everything that’s going on, we are dispatching additional officers to theaters that are showing the film,” LAPD spokesman Jack Richter told Variety. “It’s a combination of anticipating potential problems and responding to requests from theater owners.”
Richter said the LAPD will increase its presence in and around theaters in the Southwest Division, which includes the Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Exposition Park and West Adams neighborhoods. He also noted that the Hollywood Division routinely dispatches undercover officers to the movies as a preventative measure.
“We can respond with lot of resources,” Richter added. “It’s all based on what’s requested.”
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The Sheriff’s Department is also planning on increased presences in its jurisdiction, which includes Compton — the working-class city southwest of Los Angeles that’s become widely known as the origin spot for musicians such as N.W.A, along with being a center of gang activity. N.W.A, founded by Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, released the “Straight Outta Compton” album in 1988, with the song “F–k tha Police” gaining widespread traction as a protest against police brutality and racial profiling.
“Sheriff’s patrol stations have been working with theater management in their jurisdictions over the last few weeks to develop safety plans and discuss security measures,” spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told Variety. “Deputies will be doing patrol checks during their shifts, and the department will be monitoring the release.”
News emerged Wednesday that Universal Pictures has offered to reimburse U.S. theaters for the costs of extra security for this weekend’s launch of “Straight Outta Compton.” A Universal spokesperson said the studio is partnering with exhibitors who have requested support for their locations but has not commented on the issue of reimbursement.
Universal has noted that “Straight Outta Compton,” directed by F. Gary Gray, has been seen by thousands of people at hundreds of screenings without incident. “The studio has not solicited enhanced security for theaters who will begin showing it this weekend, but has partnered with those exhibitors who have requested support for their locations,” the spokesperson said.
Security was heavier than normal at the Monday night premiere of “Straight Outta Compton” at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. The music biopic, which has drawn strong critical support, is expected to take first place at the U.S. box office with an opening weekend of more than $40 million at 2,751 sites.