The inside of Warner Bros studios was “a little more somber” following a shooting rampage during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” early Friday morning in Aurora, Colo., according to an employee who was walking out of the Burbank-based company’s “Ranch” gate.
“But I guess that’s just because once you know about it, it changes how you see everything,” Jeff Palm, an animation concept designer for the studio, said Friday afternoon.
He said no internal company statement had been issued to the employees about the tragedy. James Holmes, 24 of San Diego, allegedly shot and killed 12 people and injured dozens more.
“Usually when there’s something like this that happens, the president and CEO will send out an email just giving some thoughts, but nothing like that yet,” Palm said.
Palm added that he thinks the incident will have an impact on movie-goers.
“It’s gonna kinda change the way we see the movie; or at the very least, when you go to the movies, it’ll be on people’s minds,” he said.
Earlier that day, the company released a public statement regarding the shootings.
“Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident,” the statement said. “We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time.”
Representatives for the two theater companies that have complexes in Burbank and Glendale — AMC Theaters and Pacific Theatres — both said their companies are enhancing security measures.
AMC doesn’t allow fake weapons and Pacific did not doesn’t permit props of any kind. In addition, both companies said they would not allow movie-goers to wear costumes with masks.
Both companies said they would issue refunds to any customer who requests one.
Burbank and Glendale public safety officials are stepping up security at local theaters in the wake of the shootings, but said there have been no incidents.
Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said he was working with the studio to ensure security of its facilities and at the city’s downtown AMC theaters.
Ryburn stressed that all residents and businesses should be aware of their surroundings.
In Glendale, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said no issues were reported at “Dark Knight” showings early Friday at Pacific Theaters in the Americana at Brand.
The department’s downtown unit, which includes undercover officers, planned to work closely with the Americana’s security detail on future movie showings, he said. Officers from department’s graveyard shift will also be monitoring activity at the city’s theaters.
It appeared most movie-goers didn’t let the incident keep them out of theaters Friday afternoon as both local Pacific and AMC theater complexes were busy, particularly for “Dark Knight” showings.
“We’ve been having heavy sales,” said Stacie Ayon, manager of the Pacific Theaters in Glendale. “It is a blockbuster.”
Chris Rosa, 25, was headed into the 2:20 p.m. showing of “Dark Night” Friday at AMC Theatres.
“Burbank is way different from Colorado,” he said, “This is a different demographic, so I’m not too scared.”
He added, though, that increasing security would be a good idea.
“You can pat me down. I don’t care,” he said.
Selena Shavagyan, 16, who was going into a restaurant outside AMC Theatres, said she won’t be quite so carefree.
“I don’t think anything like that would happen around Burbank, but it does give me a different perspective on going to see [“Dark Knight”] or going to the theater,” she said. “I’d just feel weird.”
Carla DeLaCruz, who was watching her young son play in the park outside Pacific Theatres at the Americana at Brand, said she would still take her child to the movies.
“That was an isolated incident,” she said. “I would still take him to the movie theater [for a] matinee. For a kids’ movie, I think it’s different.”
Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst for hollywood.com, said it’s too early to tell if the tragedy will impact the movie’s bottom line.
“Presales are huge,” he said as the film was entering its opening weekend in the U.S. “The die-hard fans are still interested in the movie.”
He also said that some people may be apprehensive about going into a theater for while, just as they were after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, as time goes by without additional incidents and more security measures may be put in place, their anxiety should subside, he said.
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