MINNEAPOLIS - Twin Cities theater owners and managers shared the surprise and sorrow of those directly affected by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado on Friday. Security became front and center in their discussions.
"We monitor everyone that comes into the theater, anyone who looks suspicious," insisted Kevan Smoliak, General Manager of Saint Anthony Main Theatres. "We check all the entrances and exits to the theatres and make sure they are locked at all times. We have security cameras set up all over the place. So, we have an 'eye' on everyone that comes in."
Smoliak said there have never been any problems at his theater, although he had seen problems with teenagers at another theater he once worked in, at a Twin Cities suburb.
"Obviously, what happened is a horribly, horribly tragic thing and our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by it, but we just want people to know that it is safe to come out to the movies," said Smoliak.
Muller Theatres Director of Operations Dale Haider said there was more talk among theater owners when terrorism became a larger issue in America.
"We did start to talk about things and we talked about watching for people with bags and we talked to our staff about all those kinds of things, so, we were very concerned, but we just felt that, at that time, they were looking for even larger crowds than a movie theater," said Haider.
Haider said his staff checks entrances and exits after each movie showing and said, since their theater's are in the suburbs, sensors to detect the doors being opened were not necessary and were "a lot of expense."
He talked about extreme measures like having armed guards in the theaters. "Sadly, when things like this happen, you become Monday morning quarterbacks and now we are going to be looking into these things and we are going to watch and we are really anxious to see more of the story come out of Colorado and see what led to this," said Haider.
None of the theater owners KARE 11 spoke with indicated that any of the "Dark Knight Rises" showings had been cancelled. All reported having big crowds for the midnight showings like the one at Aurora, Colorado. There are no other reported incidents from theaters around the country during that film's showing.
Marcus Theatres issued a statement noting "random acts of violence...can happen anywhere...but have never occurred in a U.S. movie theatre."
AMC Theatre's statement: "We are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures." AMC Theatre's statement also reads "costumes are not banned, but we will not admit guests with face-concealing masks and we will not allow fake weapons in the buildings."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)