There's no easy way to talk about the traumatic instances of violence that have occurred in movie theaters over the past two years. Even more difficult is the discussion of how theater chains should react to these events and the security measures that are required to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again. While some chains have implemented limited screening efforts, Regal Cinemas has become the first chain to mandate bag checks – and with recent audience surveys trending towards more security being needed at theaters, it's probably about time everyone else started following suit.
Variety broke the news that the Tennessee-headquartered theater chain would be checking the bags of their patrons as a result of recent events. These measures are assumed to be enacted on a chain wide scale, as opposed to chains like AMC that were using heightened security measures in specific location. In fact, Regal Cinemas has made the following amendment to their admission policies:
Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety.
It should be noted that while this wording has been added to Regal Theaters' official admittance procedures, it isn't listed as being a mandatory action to be executed upon entry. While you can bet that Regal will be using this verbiage to execute bag checks for the next couple of months or so, there's no language in the new regulations stating that this needs to continue happening after Regal and cinema audiences are comfortable with going to the movies again.
This sort of solution gives temporary comfort to the ticket-purchasing public, but ultimately, it does little to solve the overall problem. While Regal Cinemas have given themselves the authorization to check bags and personal belongings upon entry, not only does this not implement a permanent protocol for screening audiences, but it limits the checking procedures to personal items, and not the audience members themselves. At the time, there is no ultimate solution that theater chains and security experts can agree upon to make theaters at least seem safer for the time being. There seems, however, to be an agreement that safer viewing experiences are indeed a priority with audiences.
This is obviously not the last we've heard about the situation, especially considering most other major theater chains had no comment when asked about their security measures and any upgrades that may have occurred. With patrons ready to put out a couple more dollars per showing to ensure their safety, it's only a matter of time before Regal Cinemas' actions start to inspire an industry wide revision of security procedures and policies. At least, if the competition is smart, they'll start to move in that direction.