Cinemas in major cities across the country are hiring additional security guards as a precaution for the screening of Universal's critically acclaimed movie "Straight Outta Compton," theater executives said.
"We are hiring a little extra security in a couple of our theaters," said Phil Zacheretti, chief executive of Phoenix Theatres Entertainment, a Knoxville, Tenn., chain with 10 theaters in Maryland, Kansas and several other states. "We don't expect any major issues, we just want to make sure everybody feels comfortable coming to the theater to see the film."
Comcast Corp.-owned Universal Pictures has offered to help theaters offset the costs of hiring additional security guards for "Straight Outta Compton," which traces the rise of the pioneering and controversial rap group N.W.A founded by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.
"We're not soliciting enhanced security for theaters, but Universal is partnering with those exhibitors who have requested support for their locations,'' said a spokesman for the studio.
The movie, which opens in 2,751 theaters, is expected to lead the box office this weekend and generate at least $25 million in ticket sales.
To beef up security, the LAPD deployed gang enforcement officers at Monday night's downtown Los Angeles premiere. No incidents were reported.
Theaters in the past have hired extra security to control large crowds, or for films deemed controversial, such as the 1991 gang drama "Boyz N The Hood."
"Straight Outta Compton" includes scenes of gang violence and overt police harassment, a topic that has been in the news of late with the recent demonstrations against police tactics in Ferguson, Mo.
Beyond the film's subject matter, the security concerns also have been magnified by theater shootings that have renewed questions about theater security and how owners can ensure the safety of patrons.
Last month, a man killed two women at a screening of "Trainwreck" in Lafayette, La. And in 2012, James Holmes killed 12 people during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. Holmes was sentenced to life in prison last week.