Kenny Says, The Entertainment Industry Must Address Concerns from Aurora Theater Shooting.


I hope to not drag out discussing The Aurora Theater Shooting, which has sensationally dominated the headlines in the past week. If I keep bringing it up, I won’t apologize considering it happened in Denver where I live. Just today on Facebook, someone I knew who was friends with victim Alex Sullivan (who celebrated his 27th birthday) posted about attending his funeral. Like it or not, the Aurora Theater Shooting will directly or indirectly affect every moviegoer who attends a film in a theater. It’s only a matter of time. Many questions and concerns have arisen in the wake of the Aurora Theater Shooting. As the fallout continues in the coming weeks, people’s grief will motivate individuals to seek answers in what Hollywood should do. Will the industry respond to crowd safety or sanitize the content in the films?


Something must be done to address the concerns of the public. Currently, consumers are still nervous with what happened. As reported in “NRG research is currently showing that 20%-25% of the domestic movie-going audience is still very hesitant to go this weekend because of the Colorado theater shooting.”


A lack of consumer confidence can hurt any business. If action isn’t taken quickly, this could damage the brand. And the industry cannot afford to be slow to action considering less then desirable profit news. It was announced today that the 2nd quarter profits for Regal Entertainment are lower as theater owners contend to make money. This reminds us the theater chains are struggling. An incident such as the shooting makes consumers feel leery. Redbox and Netflix is not only a cheaper option, it is perceived to be the safer alternative. This could cause the erosion of the theater going experience even more so.


Even Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is noticing the potential impact of the shooting on his business…and wants to take action. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Weinstein said Hollywood “can’t shirk our responsibility” for portraying violence in film. This is a stunning omission from a man who help established the “Scream” franchise and other gruesome horror films in an offshoot studio Dimension Films which were popular during my high school years. Weinstein referenced bringing together directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese together to join in on the discussion. This is a serious business when the man who profited off “Grindhouse” and “Pirhana 3D” wants to get filmmakers together to discuss toning down the violence! Maybe the shooting is the event which returns Hollywood to a squeaky clean image.


The industry cannot control guns, per say, but controlling the content is an option currently being explored. Are various forms of censorship the answer? Its already happening. As to be expected, the violent “Gangster Squad” was delayed into next year. What might have been a surprise to some was a scene featuring people being gunned down in a movie theater will be cut out entirely and even re-shot. It is a matter of taste to place distance from the event to the film. Is removing the entire scene acceptable? The studio thinks so. “Gangster Squad” is based on a true story and the theater scene could very well be based on actual events. If so, is this removing history? Will films need to censor story telling and possibly real events to appease audiences? This is a slippery-slope one that filmmakers and studios must take into consideration. Sensitivity must be taken into consideration, but constant censorship is never the answer.


A more realistic, common sense option is provided additional security at the theater. Unless metal detectors are installed in the lobbies, anyone can bring a gun into an auditorium. Theater chains can adopt simple security measures to ensure the safety of their guests. I expect industry wide regulation for all theater chains to occur by the end of the year. With sagging profits and the public perception of the shooting, the theater owners in the industry cannot afford to wait around. Additional security, maybe ones similar to a sporting event, might have to be commonplace to make people feel reassured. Of course, who would pay for that would yet to be determined? I find this to be a healthy medium then what is being discussed by the media. Social conservatives who blame violent films and liberals who want gun control are overlooking a more practical solution of on sight security.


On a final note, people will be asking the age-old question if violent movies had anything to do with the shooting. Somehow I doubt violent films influenced a man to gun-down a theater full of people. We don’t know the motives of the shooter, but I don’t think the movies are to blame. Some people are just sick in the head. In our era of irresponsibility, of course it’s logical to site fault on violent content in film. The first test for movie audience’s tolerance for graphic violence will be in a few weeks when the machine gun heavy “Expendables 2” opens in theaters. Will it be a hit or will audiences not yet be ready? Regardless, Hollywood should do its part to regulate the crowds in the auditorium and not the content on the screen.



About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion for interacting with moviegoers (something most movie pundits lack) as a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore and working as floor staff/special events coordinator in the film community. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

  • sam

    We can all agree that this shooting was a reprehensible act, and a sad day in American history. But we should not compromise our art, for any reason of any outside influence; not by studios or the audience themselves.

    Remember all the songs and bands that got banned from the radio after 9/11? You couldn’t even play Free Fallin’ without Clear Channel kicking your DJ off the air. Another One Bites The Dust. Stairway to Heaven. This is the kind of sensationalism that impedes our creativity and it’s unacceptable.

    Ever watched the director’s cut of Payback after seeing the original? The director walked away because test audiences didn’t like the third act. Mel & co. rewrote and shot probably half an hour of material. That’s how much a movie can change if you’re too caught up in what other people think.

    I don’t often watch violent films, but I have no desire to prevent people from making them. Timeless art challenges the status quo. Audiences can decide whether or not they want to see a film, or whether or not they change the channel.

  • Beyonder

    No. Censorship and removing violence from films is not the answer. Violence DOES exist in real life. Removing UNNECESSARY violence however is another story. Art and Creative Writing must have NO limits. That’s the whole point of imagination. If a movie (or book, or video game) has something to tell me, teach me, something to offer to humanity, then there’s no place for limits. BUT if we’re talking about cases like for example The Human Centipede, which have absolutely nothing to offer to a sane, thinking human being, then yes, we COULD do without this kind of violence. Why? Because it’s not realistic anyway. It can’t happen in real life. It’s something pointless and stupid by common logic.

    But I don’t expect many people to understand this. America has always had some rather reversed standards on what’s acceptable on film and what isn’t. I mean, we accept a film like Friday the 13th which has tons of blood and gore and we rate it “R” and we DON’T accept a film which happens to show pubic hair and we rate it “Adults Only”?! According to this (as it appears, American only) logic, a person will be more “traumatized” if they see pubic hair than if they see someone being chopped to pieces…

    And no. To have more strict security measures and cameras and metal detectors and the like is not the answer either. It would cost too much. And that cost would eventually reach the consumer. Sure, politicians could use this event in order to pass even more laws of mass control and supervision (everything, always seems to come down to the taking of our personal freedom, doesn’t it?). But I don’t want Big Brother watching me and security officers checking me when I go to a movie theatre in order to “relax and enjoy” a peaceful evening.

    The answer is much simpler. Do what the Europeans and the rest of the world have done decades ago. Ban weapon ownership and use for simple citizens! One CANNOT kill 12 people if he CANNOT buy a gun! It’s THAT simple! But why is there such a powerful lobby in favor of weapons in the States? Profit! That’s why. The USA is the number One country in weapons sales and exporting worldwide! 34.8% of all weapons in global circulation among terrorist groups and criminals in general come from the USA. The country makes $12.2 Billion on this industry! That’s why they don’t want to ban weapon ownership!

    “If another person in the theatre had a gun, they would’ve shot this guy and all this would’ve been prevented” Seriously?! Yeah, I suppose in a society THAT sick, such a response makes perfect sense…

    The answer is looking at you in the face. But, once again we’re focusing at the tree and not the forest. The problem is not “one crazy man who went on a killing spree”. The root of the problem is the society which creates such people! The society which ALLOWS the arming of such people! Ever wondered WHY do such “random mass killing” events only take place in America??? Why not in Europe? Why not in Asia? Why ONLY in the US?

    No, my poor, blindly patriotic, brainwashed American friends. This is not “just a crazy guy on a killing spree”. This is Western Capitalistic Decadence…

  • DarwinMulligan

    Kenny, twelve people died and you’re writing about damage to “the brand”. This is in poor taste.

    • Kenny Miles

      @DarwinMulligan I apologize you feel that way or if this post came across in such a way. I was VERY upset this happened where I live in Denver. I know some people who knew the victims. I know a police officer who responded to this shooting that night. I know a few nurses who took care of the victims! I still think about the victims and the sacrifice from the three men made to protect the women they love. ‘The Joker’ even creeps me out. I wont be able to shake those emotions off for a while. I work in the film industry in Denver and am starting to hear MANY concerns from NUMEROUS people about wanting to feel safe again when they go to the movies. They want to know the industry will respond to their concerns. I just wanted to address those concerns in a posting for this site and touch upon having common sense security. Banning guns or censorship is being considered solutions for what happened and I wanted to mention it. And I certainly don’t want to touch upon the politics of those hot button issues especially on a movie website.