Updated 3:45 p.m.
In the wake of this morning’s tragic shooting at an Aurora, Co., screening of The Dark Knight Rises, movie-theater security comes under new scrutiny. The Colorado violence took place at one of 3,700 midnight showings that occurred nationwide, but those screenings make up just part of what Deadline reports as a massive $30 million in ticket pre-sales. Concerns for the safety of those moviegoers attending screenings this weekend have already led theaters and law enforcement to plan for a weekend of heightened awareness.
In New York City, security measures will come in uniform, and not private theater security uniforms. The local NBC News reports that in New York City—where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that the shooting is reason to turn the nation’s focus to the matter of gun control—the police will be a presence at theaters screening The Dark Knight Rises. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, in a statement, that the decision was “a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons.”
Elsewhere in North America, theaters are reviewing their security measures before the opening weekend commences outright. Patrick Corcoran, a spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO)—whose members operate 30,000 screens throughout the U.S.—told TIME in a statement that the effort to increase security will be seen across the board:
On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families. We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.
Some theaters are doing more than increasing security: Cineplex Entertainment, announced this morning that the chain, Canada’s largest, would donate a portion of tonight’s box office proceeds to the Red Cross RespectED: Violence and Abuse Prevention program, which provides anti-violence education. Those screenings will also come with heightened security. In a statement, the chain announced that “the safety and and security of our guests remains our top priority, and while we believe this was an isolated incident, we have security measures in place for our upcoming shows.”
And those shows will go on. Carlo Petrick, a spokesman for Marcus Theatres—which has 600 screens in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio—told TIME in a statement that:
These senseless, random acts of violence, by disturbed individuals, can happen anywhere, but have never occurred in a U.S. movie theatre in its 110-year history. Safety and security of our guests and associates is always a priority concern. We will take appropriate measures to have our security precautions in place today and every day. All showings of ‘Dark Knight’ and all other motion pictures at all Marcus Theatres will go on as scheduled.
And Rachel Lulay, a spokesperson for the National Amusements theater chain—which operates 1,500 movie screens worldwide—said in a statement, “For the safety of our patrons and staff we do not discuss our internal security measures. We are reviewing all safety measures with our theatre personnel.”
Other theaters are working to keep appearances normal. “It’s standard at our theaters to increase security for big events, like the Dark Knight opening,” said Terrell Mayton, the director of marketing for Carmike Cinemas. The group’s 235 theaters, primarily located in the southeast, had already planned to have extra measures in place this weekend, including uniformed and plain-clothes police officers. Mayton adds that the theater group still wants to provide audiences with a pleasurable viewing experience. “You can imagine what going to a theater that looks like the TSA would be like. We want to avoide that.”
Internationally, the ramifications have already been seen on a red-carpet level—with the decision to cancel tonight’s planned Paris premiere of the film, according to the Hollywood Reporter, as well as the day’s scheduled press events—and in individual theaters, where the Hollywood Reporter has also learned that some European exhibitors will be reviewing their security procedures. Those theaters did not clarify how exactly such caution would be implemented (at least at the time of this report, mere hours after the shooting took place). ODEON/UCI, the largest European theater operator, told THR that they would be “continuing their vigilant safety measures and further operational procedures will be introduced to ensure a safe and quality service.” Other exhibitors, however, placed the onus for security elsewhere: SF Kino, a Scandinavian chain, said they would wait for word from the film’s distributor (Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner, as is TIME) before making any changes.