A compassionate industry


The best way to recover from a mass shooting or any disaster is to move on and not continue to dwell on it. Unfortunately, the media has not followed suit with regard to the tragic movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado. There has been so much written and so much speculation about the much-debated connection between media violence and real violence.

Much of the focus has been on the movie, when it should really have been centered on the 12 people killed and those who were wounded. The emphasis should have been on learning the warning signs and then being proactive with individuals who choose to inflict harm on others. The incident at the Century theatre could have happened anywhere, and blame should not be placed on the location or the movie, but on the assailant himself.

This editorial will focus on the motion picture industry and how it handled this terrible nightmare. Up until now, movie theatres have remained immune to the kind of mass killings that have occurred with shocking regularity in malls, schools, restaurants and other locations where large groups of people congregate.

The movie industry, although very competitive, is also the most generous and charitable business of all. This is an industry that comes together in hard times and always supports its members. Through the generosity of Will Rogers, the Motion Picture Pioneers and Variety, this business always takes care of its own. Just as the U.S. Marine motto is “Leave no man behind,” the motion picture industry is the first to give a helping hand to its own members when aid is needed.

Warner Bros, the studio releasing The Dark Knight Rises, moved quickly to do the following:

* Issue condolences to the families of the victims of this wanton and deplorable act;
* Delay reporting of the usual weekend box-office estimates out of respect for the victims, with other studios following suit;
* Cancel premieres in Paris, Mexico and Tokyo;
* Quickly pull a trailer for its upcoming film Gangster Squad, which contained a scene in which mobsters fire guns into a movie theatre audience from behind the screen

The exhibition community responded in kind by donating funds to the Community First Foundation, which targets resources in Colorado to help people in need during times of crisis. The National Association of Theatre Owners sent out a letter to its members recommending their donations to the Foundation.

And although it has not been made public, Cinemark, which owns and operates the Century theatre in Aurora, will close the cinema permanently and has donated huge sums of money to the families of the victims and those hospitalized with large medical bills.

Both AMC and Regal have cracked down on customers wearing costumes and other character attire, with AMC banning face-covering masks and fake weaponry and Regal asserting its right to inspect bags. Other measures have been hinted at and already adopted, including monitoring cameras, alarming exit doors, and rigging theatre lights to go on when an emergency door is opened. Training is the most cost-effective and most preventive way of spotting a potential problem.

We are living in a dangerous age when public venues must rigorously assess the safeguards they are taking to protect patrons from becoming targets for a depraved person with an assault rifle.

Despite all the precautions one might take, this incident was a fluke occurrence that one can never really be prepared for. We would truly hate to see a lone gunman’s depraved act of violence end up penalizing millions of moviegoers who seek a brief refuge in a movie theatre from the stresses of everyday life.

The motion picture business did what it does best—showed generosity and compassion to help those in need. Members of this industry can take extreme pride in knowing that all barriers among competing companies come down when a community needs help.

China’s New Inroads
Ke Kou Ke Le is the Chinese trademark for Coca-Cola. The literal translation is “Tasty Soft Drink” or “Tasty & Happy.” Can you picture going to a theatre concession stand and saying, “I’ll take a 44-ounce Ke Kou Ke Le”? Hopefully, New York Mayor Bloomberg won’t be there to write a summons for going over the 16-ounce limit in NYC for sugary drinks.

Every time you blink an eye, you read or hear about the Chinese. It seems with the current state of the economy, this is going to be a frequent occurrence. Here are just a few examples:

* The Chinese currently hold trillions in U.S. debt.
* They recently received regulatory approval for the purchase of American Multi-Cinema Entertainment.
* Disney announced that the third installment of its Iron Man franchise would be co-produced with Beijing-based DMG Entertainment. The studio is also building a theme park in Shanghai.
* DreamWorks Animation will team up with Chinese partners to co-produce the next installment in the Kung-Fu Panda franchise.
* Relativity Media teamed up with China’s Huaxia Film and Skyland Film–Television Development to produce and distribute films.
* Avatar filmmaker James Cameron announced a venture in China’s northern city Tianjin with local manufacturing companies Tianjin Hitech Holding Group and Tianjin North Film Group to develop equipment for China’s homegrown 3D film and broadcast industry.
* With the China Film Group as guardian, the Chinese film market recently shot past Japan’s to become the world’s second-largest in box-office receipts behind the U.S. China’s box office rose by one-third last year to $2 billion, while revenue in North America has decreased for two straight years.

So where does it stop? Is China going to own America soon? What are the goals of the Chinese in the entertainment field? Do they want to play or dominate? Only time will tell.