Going to the movies?
Date night with dinner and a movie now comes with mandatory bag searches, thanks to increased security measures at Grand Junction’s Regal Cinemas.
Moviegoers are being asked to open their bags to be searched by theater employees, a policy that has been increasingly enforced in the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting on July 20 that left 12 people dead and 58 injured.
A manager at Regal Cinemas, 648 Market St., referred questions to the theater’s corporate headquarters.
“Regal takes safety and security very seriously,” said Russ Nunn, a spokesman for Regal Entertainment Group. “Moviegoers should expect stricter controls over character attire and accessories at our theaters. We reserve the right to inspect the contents of any backpack, package or bag.”
Nunn declined to comment on other security measures, citing safety reasons, but said that the right to search bags is not a new policy.
Grand Junction resident Sherrie Nettleblad went to see a movie with her family last week when theater employees asked to look in her bag at the same time they checked her ticket.
“It seems really invasive, but they asked first, and I can see where they’re coming from,” Nettleblad said. “It doesn’t really feel any safer. People are just crazy sometimes, and they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, whether it’s at a movie theater or a school.”
Nettleblad also said she didn’t think movie theaters could be truly “secured” unless they were “locked down like the airport.”
Starlyn Tait went to see “The Dark Knight Rises” with a group of friends, and she said the Aurora shooting crossed her mind many times before she entered the movie theater.
“I wasn’t surprised when they searched my bag, I kind of expected it,” Tait said. “They just looked in my bag but didn’t really rummage around. I’m gonna be honest, I was nervous about coming out. I hope (searching bags) helps.”
Carol Bergman doubts it will.
She and her husband, Steve, went to see a movie a couple of weeks ago. A theater employee asked to see her purse.
“So I held it up and said, ‘It’s new, do you like it?’ ” she said. “I thought it was an odd question.
He said, ‘I need you to set your purse here.’
I realized what he was asking and I said, ‘You’re joking. This is extremely offensive to me.’ “
The employee insisted, telling her it was part of the “new rules” and asked her to move her wallet so he could see the bottom of the purse, Bergman said.
She said she would have refused to let the employee search her purse if her husband hadn’t already sat down inside the theater.
Bergman contends that even if the measure is supposed to make people feel safe, it’s a false sense of security. She noted that the gunman in the Aurora shooting didn’t carry a weapon into the lobby with him, but instead allegedly slipped out an emergency exit door and retrieved a cache of weapons from his car.
“It’s not the guy who’s willing to open his bag that you have to worry about. It’s the guy who has weapons in his car out the back door,” she said.
Bergman said she won’t return to the theater until employees stop searching bags.
“With Netflix and Redbox, why would you pay ($10.50) to go to the theater?” she said.