Putting Metal Detectors In Theaters Would Be Costly, Disruptive


The Louisiana theater shooting has renewed the debate on security that began three years ago when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Co., killing 12 and wounding 70. Beefing up security at the nation’s 5,000 theaters would be expensive, says the Los Angeles Times. Walk-through metal detectors cost about $5,000. In addition to the price of such devices, security systems require training personnel and paying their wages. Maintaining a strong security installation at a multiplex could cost between $250,000 and $1 million annually, says security consultant Michael Dorn. Such a system would include metal detectors, X-ray machines, workers to operate those devices and additional armed security.

“There’s a difference between having a metal detector at the door and actually having effective screening,” said Dorn, director of Safe Havens International. “My fear is that we may see theaters throw in metal detectors without proper utilization.” Any changes that threaten to make the moviegoing experience less smooth would probably meet industry resistance.The theater business has seesawed in recent years, with box office receipts eroded by new entertainment platforms. “Audiences today understand that in the world we live in, safety is a high priority,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst at Rentrak. “But to suddenly put a metal detector in every theater — I don’t know if that is an overreaction or the appropriate response. It’s a conundrum of major proportions.”

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