A handful of high-profile attacks at movie theaters over the last three years, resulting in shootings at cinemas in Lafayette, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; and Aurora, Colorado, has an industry on edge.
As a result of the violence at multiplexes, Regal Entertainment Group — the nation’s largest theater chain with about 570 theaters — recently started checking bags at locations around the country, though its official security policy remains unclear. National Amusements‘ Showcase chain, which runs about 30 theaters in the Northeast, requests that patrons refrain from carrying backpacks, large bags, and packages, and says it reserves the right to search them.
So far, security at movie theaters is experimental. Any more major services will come at a price. Security measures such as scanners, metal detectors, and armed guards could cost millions of dollars, according to security consultants cited in Variety. Theater owners would likely pass on the extra cost to customers.
Depending on the extent of the bulked-up security (and the corresponding price tag), the extra cost may not be a problem. Recent survey results from consumer research firm C4, reported in Variety, found that nearly half of US cinema-goers say they are willing to pay more for added security at multiplexes. Some 48% of respondents said they would pay $1 or more per ticket for the additional measures, and 23% would pay $2 or more.
One industry’s pain point may provide opportunities for others. Security services industries — which range from security guards, security systems, security products manufacturing, and security consulting services — stand to benefit from theater owners who may be looking to reassure customers that they are in a safe place to spend leisure dollars. Just how big a share of those dollars, however, remains to be seen.
Industry Impact: Security system providers may consider turning to movie theaters — an untapped market with a growing demand for security services — for new business.
Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.