A Star Wars theater shooting scenario is an unfortunate thing many fans of the long-running sci-fi fantasy series are keeping in mind as they prepare to bring their families to Star Wars: The Force Awakens when it opens in theaters on December 18.
While no one wants to consider it a possibility, especially since it's the type of movie you bring the whole family to, it is unwise not to plan ahead in lieu of previous tragedies.
The possibility of a Star Wars theater shooting first arose with the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, during opening weekend of The Dark Knight Rises and most recently, picked up steam with the Lafayette theater shooting during a screening of Amy Schumer's debut feature Trainwreck.
Shooting Outside Stockton Theater Sends Audiences Fleeing https://t.co/UAp1qlXocjWhile Trainwreck was a success, it was small potatoes compared to TDKR and a new Star Wars film featuring the original cast. You may never be able to fully alleviate the risk involved with these dangerous scenarios, but it is wise to be vigilant.
— CBS Sacramento CBS13 (@CBSSacramento) December 8, 2015
An Inside Edition piece earlier in the year advised that theater patrons fearing an attack need to keep their cool enough to "keep hidden" and not run.
Peter Marino, a former NYPD Captain, told the website that patrons "need to remain calm and maintain a low profile so you do not attract the shooter's attention."
If sensing that something is wrong, Marino recommends getting out of view. "I want you to get down on the floor, get low," he said. "Keep a low profile, lay flat, and conceal yourself from the line of sight from the shooter."
It's also important to think about the possibility of it happening before ever arriving at the theater, adding that where one sits "is not as important as what you do before you sit down."
"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," he added.
While it is understandably depressing that society is now one where movie theater patrons have to worry about crazed gunmen riddling a theater with bullets, Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock believes the increased vigilance will save lives.
"Theater security is going to be a hot-button issue for quite some time," Bock told USA Today. "That's a good thing. Safety is the number one concern for people at any audience event."
Just talked to a woman who's children got held hostage/ almost killed in Paris theater shooting. Doesn't hit hard till u meet some1 affectedThe USA Today piece also notes that theaters will continue to feel the pressure of providing a safe environment for patrons as time goes on, and that will lead to increased security at the level of what you might expect from a sporting event.
— Mad die Klee man (@MadKlee) December 3, 2015
That said, your theater may not be one that invests heavily in security at the present, so changes months or years down the road won't do you much good in the event of a Star Wars theater shooting next week.
That said, you might consider, in addition to the safety tips that Marino provided above, the location of where you choose to see the film.
Check ahead of time with theaters in your area to see what security precautions will be taken, and if you get a sense that your theater might be an "easy mark," it's best to change locations and go somewhere that takes security seriously.
It is a necessary balance for today's audiences, especially with films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens that are expected to drive big numbers and break long-held box office records.
While there is a sense that a gunman might target theaters that attract more people, there is safety in numbers, especially when those numbers encourage theater owners to hire additional security and off-duty police officers.
Last but not least, check with your police department to see what measures they will be taking to patrol your local multiplex during opening weekend.
Do you fear a Star Wars theater shooting? Does it enter your mind when you go see any movie, or is there still a sense that your community is safe?
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