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LONDON – European exhibitors are drawing up plans to ramp up security and boost visibility of security personnel at theaters ahead of Warner Bros.’ international rollout of The Dark Knight Rises following the shooting at a screening of the film in Denver, Colorado early Friday morning.
A highly-placed source at U.K. exhibitor Cineworld told THR that the movie theater chain is beefing up security measures across its 79 sites, of which 76 are multiplex sites with five screens or more, as the movie begins to open wide across its network on Friday. But the Cineworld source declined to reveal any further detail about the nature of the increased security.
Cineworld is the U.K.’s second-largest exhibition chain and is also programming late-night shows for the Christopher Nolan directed film starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Liam Neeson, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.
“We were already going to increase security for this release, because it is going to be so popular anyway,” the Cineworld source told THR. “But we are working on this even more as a result of this tragedy.”
The chain in a formal statement said: “We constantly review the security at our cinemas and we will take advice from the relevant authorities.”
German multiplex group CinemaxX is also planning to put measures in place to help reassure audiences.
“We’re devastated. We look at the movie theater as a wonderful place to relax, where people with a common interest in special content can be entertained,” said CinemaxX spokesman Arne Schmidt. “But the cause of such tragedies can’t be found in the cinema. For the start of the film in Germany we will ensure our security personal are clearly present but we assume our audience, more than anything else, wants to be entertained by a fantastic film that many have been waiting for with great anticipation.”
CinemaxX has 33 cinemas with 235 screens across Germany and Denmark.
The exhibitor was recently acquired by Vue Entertainment, though that deal still has to be approved by regulators.
Meanwhile, big Scandinavian cinema chain SF Kino said it is awaiting a steer from the film’s distributor Warner Bros. “The distributor will have to decide what, if anything, will follow,” said SF Kino head of programming Lars Fuglevik in Norway.
“From what I know at present, there will be no changes in response to the tragic news from Colorado in regards to the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises on Wednesday, July 25th,” he said.
Europe’s largest exhibitor ODEON/UCI, the number one operator in Europe and largest in the world outside of the Americas with 230 cinemas and 2,140 screens as of March 2012, also reacted.
In a statement, the company said: “ODEON take the safety and enjoyment of their guests very seriously and in light of the recent incident that took place in the States at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises yesterday evening, ODEON will be continuing their vigilant safety measures and further operational procedures will be introduced to ensure a safe and quality service.”
Odeon operates in four major European markets across the U.K., Spain, Italy and Germany and three smaller markets: Austria, Portugal and Ireland.
Nolan’s third and final release in his take on the Batman story goes out via Warner Bros. from Thursday July 26 across Germany.
Scott Roxborough contributed to this report.
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