Cinema attack a sobering reminder of how times have changed

John Cairns

It hasn't been easy for me to get away to the movies on Tuesdays recently.

Tuesdays are famous for being the "cheap" movie nights, and therefore popular with moviegoers for that reason alone. But in my case, work-related assignments have usually scuttled trips to Saskatoon to see the movies.

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This past week was an exception, though. Times have been slow in the office this summer, and I finally had a night off to be able to head to Saskatoon for Cheap Tuesday. I still had some $30 to use on my movie gift card, so it was a welcome chance to take advantage of some low Tuesday prices.

Figuring out where to go for a movie, though, was tricky. Ordinarily, my preferred option would be the Cineplex-run Galaxy cinemas in downtown Saskatoon.

It is by far the most impressive cinema complex in the city with big screens and all the bells and whistles. But as I have mentioned before, it costs an arm and a leg for parking in downtown Saskatoon, and tickets at the Galaxy are overpriced to begin with, so those are reasons I tend to avoid the place.

The problem is there aren't too many good alternatives to the Galaxy for first-run or 3D movies. Usually if you want 3D, your only option tends to be the Galaxy, whether you like it or not.

The main alternative to the Galaxy in Saskatoon are two competing cinemas at the Centre Mall on the east side of the city.

One of those is the Centre cinemas run by the Cineplex chain. The other is run by Rainbow Cinemas, who usually show second-run movies at discounted prices.

Neither of these cinemas offered the food-court options or Stadium-style seating of the Galaxy, but they both made up for it in their price structure.

I was in luck. The Centre cinemas were showing Pacific Rim in 3D, a good monster movie that had previously been running only at the downtown Galaxy.

Best of all, it was being offered at discounted "Cheap Tuesday" prices. Adult prices were $4.75 with an additional $3 tacked on for 3D glasses, a better deal than any the Galaxy offered.

Being a monster movie fan looking for a cheap deal on a Tuesday night movie, that was how I made the decision to go to Pacific Rim at the Centre cinemas in Saskatoon.

Otherwise, I would surely have ended up at the Galaxy, a place where movie patrons were about to endure a frightening night of their own.

One of the offerings at the Galaxy that night was a late-night screening of We're the Millers starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis.

There were about 150 people in the cinema for that showing - a fairly typical crowd -for what was supposed to be a light-hearted comedy.

Instead, they got a monster movie, and an all-too-realistic one at that. Two men and a woman rushed the cinema and discharged bear spray inside.

In the panic to get out, patrons found the emergency exits wouldn't unlock. A few people were treated at the scene, but fortunately everyone else was able to evacuate.

Back safely at home in the Battlefords, my thought when I heard about this incident was "it could have been me in there."

Until recently, nobody ever thought of movie theatres as being unsafe places. Of course, the horrible shootings and killings at the theatre in Aurora that showed The Dark Knight Rises last year changed that perception.

In its wake came other scary incidents. One guy was arrested in Maryland suspected of plotting his own copycat "Dark Knight Rises" attack. Another was arrested in Ohio after entering a movie theatre with knives and a loaded gun.

Then there was that incident in San Antonio late in the year where two people were injured in a shooting at a theatre there.

Now, theatre mayhem has happened again in, of all places, Saskatoon. As someone who likes to go to the movies, this is troubling to say the least.

It's also depressing, because it will surely mean more security at movie theatres.

It's already enough of a headache to worry about security everywhere else you go - at airports, entering court houses and other public places, or going to big events in stadiums and arenas. On my recent vacation to Denver, I went to a baseball game at Coors Field. There, people had to stand in line while security were searching all the bags for items.

It's the way ordinary life is now in the Terrorized States of America, a place that has also seen school shootings, mall shootings and other scary incidents.

Even so, until recently you never had to worry about attacks at movie theatres, let alone in Saskatchewan.

You never used to hear of theatre incidents. Now, you hear about them all the time, just like the rest of the mayhem and violence going on out there.

My thought is that after the latest attack, security at movie theatres is going to have to clamp down even more than we've already seen. That will not be a change for the better.

Moviegoers cannot be enthused about the idea of having to stand in long lineups to be searched or go through metal detectors. As I have stated before, that's the direction I fear we are going.

If we do see this at movie theatres, a lot of cinema operators will be put out of business because people will not want to (a) put up with that hassle, or (b) worry throughout the movie about their own safety.

A lot of aspects of moviegoing are already going straight downhill, with increased ticket prices at many places, people texting and otherwise being annoying inside, and long lineups everywhere you go. Now, you also have these fears that you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time when some crazed individual launches some attack.

The bear spray incident at the Galaxy is a sobering reminder about how times have changed for the worse. Maybe next time I want to see a movie, I should simply stay at home and watch a DVD instead.

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist

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