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Straight Outta Compton, the N.W.A. biopic from director F. Gary Gray, is set to open in the U.S. this weekend, and Universal is helping theaters prepare for the occasion. Though this action made it seemed like the studio would actually be paying to have increased security at locations screening the title, a spokesperson says they merely "partnered" with those theaters seeking additional "support." However, sources are saying otherwise.
The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline reported the studio’s first public statement on the matter. Universal emphasized that Straight Outta Compton has been screened in hundreds of locations already, and all have gone off without incident. That said, they acknowledge that certain locations have requested assistance. THR notes that enhanced security measures were put into place for screenings of Boyz n the Hood and the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious, both of which were linked to multiple instances of violence. For Straight Outta Compton, the studio did not explain what they meant by "partnering," nor were any specific theaters mentioned. However, the trade also reports, based on information gleaned from several sources, that this support includes hiring additional security in some theaters within larger cities.
Straight Outta Compton is dropping during a heightened political and cultural time. About a month ago in Lafayette, Louisiana, a man stood up during a screening of Trainwreck and shot two women before shooting himself. This prompted Amy Schumer to partner with her cousin Senator Chuck Schumer to combat gun violence. Shortly afterwards in Tennessee, a man wielding a hatchet and pellet gun pepper sprayed audience members seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. As such, gun control is a particularly sensitive topic, particularly in local movie theaters. Some questioned whether multiplexes would take larger action in bringing metal detectors and the like to locations around the country, and yet experts don’t believe that’s a viable option. Instead they advocate for increased education and preparation of the theater staff in order to better pinpoint incidents earlier.
Straight Outta Compton follows the rise and fall of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren, as they formed the group N.W.A. within the harsh climate of Compton, California. Tinged with themes of racial oppression, and violent and excessive force from police, the film also draws a direct line to what’s going on today. Following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, there have been protests and a larger discussion about racism in America. One N.W.A. song that’s highlighted in the film, "Fuck tha Police!," is specifically timely.
Straight Outta Compton opens in theaters starting on August 14 and stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge and Paul Giamatti.