Movie theatres aren’t always the safest of places. They are often overcrowded and people get easily irritated with others bumping into them, sitting a little too close, kicking the seats, texting on the cell phone or even worse answering phone calls during the movie. We’ve all been a victim to someone potentially ruining our movie-going experience. It has become such a problem for me that I’ve decided to simply stick with the advanced press screenings over public screenings with my friends. Otherwise I try my best to go to the theatre in the daytime when most people are at work, and more importantly kids are at school.
Some moviegoers believe that their individual film-going experience takes precedence over everyone else’s enjoyment and their selfish behaviour ruins everyone else’s enjoyment of the film. The question is when do you talk back and is it even worth the trouble in the first place? From my experience, usually when I’ve asked someone to stop kicking my chair or to quiet down, it often backfires and they become even more increasingly annoying. During the screening for Zack Snyder’s 300, I witnessed a full out twelve man brawl break out over an empty seat that was supposedly reserved. During a showing of the 50 Cent bio-pic Get Rich or Die Tryin’, police were called in to break up a gang war. From my experience it just isn’t worth getting involved, and putting yourself in harms way. And while I all too often have been tempted to tell someone to “shut the fuck up”, the following stories are prime examples of why I just keep quiet and to myself.
Recently this week, one disgruntled movie lover decided to shoot a fellow audience member at a screening of’Black Swan simply because he was eating his popcorn too loud. The incident occurred in Latvia (where gun crime is a rarity), and although the exact details are unknown, the armed 27-year- old shot and killed a 42-year-old man while the credits were rolling.
This isn’t the first time someone has been killed while watching a film nor will it be the last. In 2009, after a screening of My Bloody Valentine, a security guard stabbed a 16-year-old boy in the stomach for refusing to leave the movie theatre. The 24 year old security guard apparently drew a blade mid-scuffle and punctured the boy in the upper-stomach as a means of stopping the melee. The 16 year old was immediately taken to Winthrop University Hospital, where he was appropriately treated with 6 stitches before being released a short time thereafter. Meanwhile the security guard Singh was arrested and charged with 2nd degree assault.
On Christmas Day 2008, a Philadelphia man shot another man in the arm because his family was being too loud during a screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The shooter sat back down in his seat and watched the rest of the movie until the police arrived and hauled him off to jail. The man James Joseph Cialella Jr was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and weapons violations.
In 2008, two men were stabbed while watching the sci-fi/horror film, The Signal. The unknown man supposedly started stabbing at the theater seat and then began stabbing the first victim. As he ran out of the cinema, he stabbed another victim sitting near the exit. Both men were stabbed in the arm and were taken to separate hospitals and neither men knew the suspect, who escaped without arrest. The film was paused while police conducted their investigation. When it was resumed, the fist scene was a stabbing.
During a screening of Notorious in 2009, one man shot another in the abdomen twice on the film’s opening day. An estimated 700 people were evacuated when gunfire broke out at the Greensboro movie theater. Rapper and actor Jamal “Gravy” Woolard, who plays B.I.G. in the film, was in the theater at the time of the shooting.
But it only gets weirder. In 2009, a 24-year-old Oregon man shot and killed himself during a screening of Watchmen. The man shot himself in the head during a midnight screening before the film ended. No one else was injured in the theatre as the victim was seated in the back corner and the closest person was two rows away.
Dring a screening of X-Men: Last Stand in 2006, a 24-year-old Baltimore man ordered everyone on to the floor and then shot the man nearest him, killing him. The shooter was later found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
Talking on the phone during a movie is about the worst thing someone can do to disrupt the film. However, speaking up about it can lead to a deadly consequence. Early last year, a man was stabbed in the neck with a meat thermometer after requesting a woman not talk on her cell phone during the screening of Shutter Island.