Skip to main content

Are moviegoers passing on planned trips to the theater?

By Stephanie Goldberg and Phil Gast, CNN
updated 9:26 AM EDT, Sat July 21, 2012
Some moviegoers will steer clear of the theater this weekend in the wake of the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
Some moviegoers will steer clear of the theater this weekend in the wake of the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
  • NEW: Risk consultant says shootings won't affect attendance
  • Some moviegoers will surrender pre-bought movie tickets
  • More than 2,000 people were checked in to "Rises" on GetGlue as of 11:30 a.m. on Friday
  • National Association of Theatre Owners: Working with police, reviewing security procedures

Anderson Cooper anchors "AC360" from Aurora, Colorado, scene of the deadly movie theater shooting, at 8 and 10 ET Friday night on CNN.

(CNN) -- Thais Mills was looking forward to taking her 7-year-old niece to see "The Dark Knight Rises" Friday evening at 8:15. But in the wake of the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, the 31-year-old from New Orleans said she would surrender the movie tickets she bought for about $20 in advance.

"I just feel like now the movie theater is, it's not a place of peace," Mills said. "Think about how vulnerable you are. You're in a dark room sitting next to people you don't know. Until something is concocted that can ensure my safety, I just feel more comfortable at the house."

But not all moviegoers will steer clear of the theater.

Despite the many users on social networking sites who echoed Mills' grief and fear, more than 2,000 people were checked in to "The Dark Knight Rises" on GetGlue as of 11:30 a.m. Friday.

'Dark Knight Rises' screenings continue
Tragedy during 'Dark Knight Rises'
Witnesses couldn't tell shots were real

CNN asked readers what they thought on Facebook. "I still went and saw it," said a Facebook user named Christopher Vento. "Tragedy happens every day. We must not let fear govern our lives."

Another poster, Jeanne Ballinger Sedgwick, said she did not plan on seeing the Batman film, but was hesitant to attend a different midnight showing.

"I don't think I'll feel safe sitting in a theater to see any popular movie for quite some time. I don't think that would ever happen here, but neither did those poor people sitting there in the dark theater last night in Aurora."

Twitter user @sophiacrowley wrote: "I refuse to live in fear, this won't deter me from going to the movies anymore than 9/11 stopped me from flying."

Other users expressed similar sentiments, tweeting, "It's sad what happened but it's not going to stop me from going about my daily life or even going to the movies."

For former film critic Steven Senski, avoiding the theater isn't the answer. However, the 49-year-old Muskego, Wisconsin, resident who managed a movie theater in 2003, said he's "very much disinclined to attend a midnight showing."

Shooting casts pall over 'Dark Knight Rises' blockbuster weekend

"Midnight showings are, and have always had a unique certain air about them," Senski said. "You do bring in patrons fresh from the bar, patrons who are sleep deprived, and in cases like 'The Dark Knight Rises,' you bring in people who may be dressed, costumed. It is a very joyous atmosphere, but it feels out of the theater's control."

Both Senski and Mills agree that one reason so many people enjoy going to the movies is because it offers an escape from reality.

"A movie theater should be one of the safest places you can be," Senski said. "When we go to the theater, when the lights come down, there's that feeling of ... whatever your problems, whatever your concerns, you're going to set them aside for two hours and hopefully be entertained."

Though Warner Bros., the studio behind the movie, canceled its Paris premiere, it said it was "deeply saddened" by the incident but would not cancel any screenings.

Infants too young for late-night movies?

The Department of Homeland Security reissued a checklist to theater operators, covering security and emergency procedures. It also reminded them to ensure their staffs are properly trained.

The National Association of Theatre Owners, which represents more than 30,000 movie screens, said it was "working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures."

"On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families," a statement says. "We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners."

Some police departments and theaters around the country tightened security on Friday.

William J. Bratton, chairman of Kroll Advisory Solutions, which provides risk consulting, said he did not expect decreased attendance at theaters showing "The Dark Knight Rises."

"This type of shooting could occur at a ball park, a concert, it could occur anywhere," said Bratton. "This appears to be, fortunately, an isolated incident."

Police departments can't afford to patrol theaters over the long term, he said.

"In America today, there is no need to significantly increase security in our public spaces," said Bratton, former Los Angeles police chief. "You respond to threats, but with millions of public spaces, we don't live in a police state."

He said he expects some lessons will be learned from Friday's horrific incident. He cited notification systems that grew out of the Columbine and Virginia Tech attacks.

"Some of the larger (theater) chains might go for some enhanced security theaters. Some of the smaller ones won't be able," he said.

Mills, a Katrina survivor, said, "There has to be a sense of togetherness to get us through," and it will take time before she feels comfortable going to the movie theater again.

Theater shooting unfolds in real time over social media

Her niece, who watched the tragedy unfold on TV, "is more than shaken up," Mills said, noting the pair typically see one movie together every week. "It's the most affordable form of outdoor entertainment," she added.

Still, her niece's safety and peace of mind come first. "I'm going to have to keep a close eye on her and see where her comfort levels are, but for now we'll just be enjoying some old DVDs."

In light of the recent shooting, what are your thoughts on gun control and public safety? Let us know on CNN iReport

Part of complete coverage on
Meet the victims involved in the Colorado theater massacre through shared photos and read the memories kept alive by their loved ones.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
Colorado shooting suspect has offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Fri March 22, 2013
Back in the 1950s, Hollywood fell in love with the idea of truth serum. But it doesn't work the way the movies have made it seem.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Fri March 1, 2013
Lawyers for James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting suspect, took aim against the state's insanity defense laws in court documents made public Friday.
updated 7:18 AM EST, Tue January 8, 2013
So much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies with horrific injuries. The eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again.
updated 11:34 AM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
Relatives of nine people killed said an invitation to attend an event on the eve of the remodeled complex's reopening is "disgusting."
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
Colorado movie shooting suspect James Holmes was charged Monday with 24 counts of first-degree murder -- two counts for each of the 12 people killed in the shooting.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
From the silver lining of welcoming a newborn into the world on Tuesday to promising to live life to the fullest, survivors are looking forward.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Sun July 22, 2012
James E. Holmes is described by those who know him as a quiet, clean-cut doctoral student.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
A heavily armed gunman opened fire at a movie theater on July 20, killing at least 12 and wounding 38. Here are some of the worst U.S. mass shootings since World War II.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Wed July 25, 2012
Photos of the scene in Aurora after the shooting took place.
updated 9:59 PM EDT, Fri July 20, 2012
A heavily armed gunman sprayed the audience with gunfire during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, killing 12 and wounding 38 others, authorities said.
Are you a friend or family member of one of the victims? Share your tributes here.