UPDATED: Universal Pictures is offering to reimburse theaters for the costs of extra security for this weekend’s launch of “Straight Outta Compton,” sources have confirmed to Variety.
A Universal spokesperson said the studio is partnering with exhibitors who have requested support for their locations but could not comment on the issue of reimbursement, first reported by Wall Street Journal.
“Universal is proud of our association with ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ which portrays the rise of five talented young men from underprivileged and oppressed backgrounds into one of the most influential music groups in modern history,” the spokesperson said.
“The film has been seen by thousands of people at hundreds of screenings, all of which have happened 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.”
Security was heavier than normal at the Monday night premiere of “Straight Outta Compton” at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. No incidents were reported.
“Straight Outta Compton,” focused on the groundbreaking rap group N.W.A, is being released three weeks after a man killed two women in Louisiana at a showing of “Trainwreck” on July 23 — prompting questions of how much security is needed at multiplexes. The issue of security was highlighted by the Aug. 7 sentencing of James Holmes on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder for the 2012 killings of 12 moviegoers at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
Those concerns have also been underlined by the gang-oriented subject matter in “Straight Outta Compton” and recent demonstrations over police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., connected to the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.
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 traction as a protest against police brutality and racial profiling.
The movie includes footage of gang violence and aggressive police behavior, including the 1991 beating of Rodney King by four Los Angeles police officers. The 1992 acquittal of those police officers prompted three days of deadly violence in Los Angeles.
Universal’s offer comes with strong moviegoer interest in the music biopic amid forecasts of a first-place finish at the U.S. box office with an opening weekend of more than $40 million at 2,751 sites. Reviews for the film, directed by F. Gary Gray, have largely been stellar.
Theater chains often provide extra security during busy periods. In 1991, some theaters hired security for screenings of the gang drama “Boyz N The Hood,” which saw more than 20 incidents of violence during its opening weekend.