Ask the Audience: Theatre Safety

Ask the Audience

Ask the Audience is a monthly feature from Film Journal International and National CineMedia (NCM) that allows you to ask an audience of 5,000 frequent moviegoers, known as NCM’s Behind the Screens panel, the pressing questions of our industry.

We wish we didn’t have to write this article, but unfortunately, it’s essential for all businesses, especially those with large crowds, to think about the measures they are taking to keep their customers safe. We wanted to know how much value moviegoers place on safety procedures at the movie theatre, and what they feel could be improved in the future. Let’s ask the audience.

80% of the Behind the Screens panelists feel safe at the movie theatre, so many of the safety procedures you already have in place are effective. Anecdotally, when asked if they had dealt with any public safety incidents while at the theatre, many reported being present for a fire drill that turned out to be a false alarm. Almost all of the comments were positive, saying that the staff did an excellent job at keeping the crowd safe and organized. However, since 63% said that they consider theatre safety when attending blockbuster films that attract large crowds, and 31% even said they would be willing to pay a bit extra for better public safety, it is always a good idea to review your policies and make sure that they are in line with customers’ expectations.

When asked what safety improvements they would like to see at their local theatre, 54% asked for better lighting in the parking lots, 52% want more auditorium checks by the staff, and 35% would like for more security guards. In fact, 57% of the panelists feel that theatres with security guards are safer than those without. 33% feel that theatres could communicate emergency plans more effectively, and 32% think crowd control could be improved, such as during peak times on large opening weekends. When it comes to dealing with unruly customers who have the potential to become disruptive or dangerous to others, 62% want more consistent enforcement of the theatre’s rules. 62% also wished they had an easier way to contact security, such as being able to text them or send a notification on an app to alert them of a situation. Since some of these recommendations would be relatively easy to implement, it may be worth making a few small changes and seeing how your customers respond.

Of course, the hope is that you will never have to use your safety procedures, but considering whether you can make any improvements to your policies and the ways you communicate them to your customers could make all the difference in both your brand’s reputation around safety and your customers’ wellbeing.

To submit a question, email with your name, company, contact information, and what you would like to ask the Behind the Screens panel.