Ahead of screenings of the N.W.A biopic, American movie theatres are upping safety measures – and Universal are reimbursing them
Following recent shootings at cinemas in Louisiana and Tennessee, US cinemas are hiring more security for showings of Straight Outta Compton this weekend, with the cost of hired muscle reportedly to be reimbursed by Universal Studios.
The company has teamed up with venues concerned about the potential for unrest ahead of the film’s release. There’ll also be heavier security present at the LA premiere on Monday night.
It’s a decision that’s been made for a few reasons. While the film focusses on the rise of NWA in the late 80s, Straight Outta Compton opens with footage of police brutality. Video of Rodney King’s beating by four LA policeman – that sparked three days of deadly violence in Los Angelesafter the officers were acquitted – also features. Police brutality against black communities remains an ongoing problem in America, as recent protests in Ferguson and Baltimore have demonstrated.
Recent cinema shootings have also encouraged cinemas to ask for assistance in hiring extra security. In the past two months alone, Louisiana and Tennesee have both suffered deadly gun attacks inside movie theatres and in 2012, James Holmes killed 12 people during a screening of The Dark Knight.
Universal didn’t specify how much they’ll reimburse for security but a spokesperson made the following statement to Variety, suggesting it would contribute to extra costs: “The film has been seen by thousands of people at hundreds of screenings, all of which have happened without incident. The studio has not solicited enhanced security for theaters who will begin showing it this weekend, but has partnered with those exhibitors who have requested support for their locations."
It’s not completely out of the norm to supply extra security for screenings. In 1991, some theatres hired security for screenings of the gang drama Boyz N The Hood which attracted more than 20 incidents of violence during its opening weekend. If anything, the rush to hire extra security sends a strong idea about the inflammatory power and subversive message that Straight Outta Compton holds.