1. Life & Culture

Movie Planner: Are theaters safe? Also, 'Straight Outta Compton' and Sundance shorts


How safe are we in movie theaters?

It's a legitimate question, after last week's hatchet-and-pepper spray attack in a Nashville theater, nearly two weeks after a fatal mass shooting in a Lafayette, La., multiplex. Both occurred three years after 12 moviegoers were murdered and dozens injured in Aurora, Colo., by a gunman sentenced last week.

Closer to home, a January trial awaits Curtis Reeves, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Chad Oulson in a Wesley Chapel theater.

Theaters are where we've always gone to forget our worries of the day. Now, they follow us inside.

Cries went up for better security measures in multiplexes, possibly armed guards, metal detectors and wanding. The same things were proposed after the Aurora shootings but never came through, for the usual monetary reasons.

Theater owners don't want their establishments resembling fortresses, or patrons getting the idea that things could get dangerous, so maybe VOD at home is a better idea. Extra security is expensive to provide, and a survey conducted after the Lafayette incident by research firm C4 found that moviegoers don't want to pay for it.

Nearly three quarters of 250 moviegoers surveyed said they feel "extremely" or "very" safe in theaters. But extra security measures are supported: Nearly one-third think bags and purses should be checked for weapons, and one-third support armed security guards and a metal detector.

Yet only 13 percent said they're willing to pay an extra $3 per ticket to cover expenses of security equipment, training and wages.

"If this happens again or becomes more of a trend, theaters aren't going to have a choice," Ben Spergel, C4's executive vice president of consumer insights, told Variety. "They're going to have to put in some of these measures and moviegoers are going to have to pay more."

Or else, theater owners will continue not doing enough to ensure customer safety. One way or another, we will pay.

What do you think? Is stricter security necessary in movie theaters? Are you willing to pay extra for it? Contact me at or tweet @StevePersall and share your thoughts.


Straight Outta Compton (R) drops in theaters this weekend, hoping to equal the cultural detonation of N.W.A.'s 1988 gangsta rap masterpiece of the same title. (If you don't know the abbreviation, maybe this isn't your movie.)

Produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, featuring the pioneering rhymes of Ice Cube and MC Ren, and featuring the late Eazy-E, Straight Outta Compton was a primal scream with beats taking listeners on an aural tour of inner city life and death, police brutality and racial profiling. The title track, Gangsta Gangsta and the notorious (Expletive) Tha Police earned N.W.A. the unofficial title of world's most dangerous band, with FBI suppression to show for it.

Today's headlines are looking tragically similar to 1988, so Straight Outta Compton may be in the running for the year's most dangerous movie.

Directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, Law Abiding Citizen) and produced by St. Petersburg native and Hollywood hitmaker Will Packer, Straight Outta Compton stars Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson Jr. as his father, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E.

Straight Outta Compton was offered too late for Weekend. Anyway, my musical tastes run more toward Steely Dan and Elvis Costello, whose concert Tuesday conflicted with the screening. Times pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin — someone clearly more on the tip than I is handling the review, which you can read right here.

Also opening Friday only at Regency 20 in Brandon is Cop Car (R) starring Kevin Bacon as a rural sheriff scrambling to recover his cruiser, taken for a joyride by two young boys. The sheriff has something in the trunk he doesn't want found. Maybe it's Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, who scammed Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick.


Wednesday and Thursday are Tampa Theatre's final presentation of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, showcasing six award winners from this year's event in Park City, Utah.

The lineup includes Don Hertzfeldt's fantasy World of Tomorrow (Sundance's Best of Fest winner), the fictional jury awardees SMILF and Oh, Lucy!, the nonfiction jury choice The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul, the animated Storm Hits Jacket, and Object, cited for its "poetic vision." The longest movie in the collection is 22 minutes, the shortest only seven. Any of them will bring more satisfaction than Fantastic Four did in 100.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. each evening. $11, available at or the box office.


(dates are subject to change)

Aug. 21: Sinister 2; Hitman: Agent 47; American Ultra; Some Kind of Beautiful; Grandma

Aug. 28: Max Steel; We Are Your Friends; Regression; Diary of a Teenage Girl

Sept. 2: A Walk in the Woods; No Escape

Sept. 4: The Transporter Refueled; Jane Got a Gun; Mistress America; Learning to Drive