If you’re seeing a movie at Regal Cinemas this week, prepare to have your bag checked before entering the theater.
After a recent spate of violence in movie theaters this summer, Regal Entertainment Group adopted a new companywide policy instructing its employees to check any backpacks, packages or other bags customers are carrying before letting them in to see a movie. Regal operates the largest chain of theaters in the U.S., with more than 580 locations in 44 states.
Other theaters around Clark County have their own policies.
Regal’s policy went into effect shortly after a theater shooting during the film “Trainwreck” in Lafayette, La., last month. The shooter killed two people and injured nine before taking his own life.
Less than two weeks later, a man with a history of severe mental health problems allegedly tried to attack moviegoers with a hatchet and pepper spray in a Nashville, Tenn., theater. Police shot and killed the man.
In an odd coincidence, the incidents happened right before James Holmes was sentenced to life in prison on Aug. 7 for a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., theater three years ago. Holmes killed a dozen people and wounded more than 70 in the traumatizing incident.
Representatives from Regal’s corporate office — which is located less than three hours east of Nashville — declined to comment on the policy change. Nonetheless, the policy has been posted on the company’s website under a list of admittance procedures. It reads as follows:
“Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety.”
Vancouver is home to three Regal theaters, and Hazel Dell also has one. Policies vary at Clark County’s locally owned movie theaters.
At Cinetopia, large purses, backpacks and other bags can be checked, according to a theater manager who preferred not to be identified. Employees usually ask customers to leave those outside in their cars.
Battle Ground Cinema does not allow customers to bring in bags or backpacks, because they can be tripping hazards if people need to exit during an emergency, manager Rhett Hazen said.
And Camas’ historic Liberty Theatre has no policy on the matter, said Rand Thornsley, the theater’s managing director.
“If we would notice something suspicious we would certainly investigate,” he said, “but being a small town, two-screen theater, we know many of our customers personally.”