How to keep trouble (makers) from your cinema

By Patrick von Sychowski | October 13, 2007 1:53 am PDT

Kerasotes cinemas Here is a fairly controversial way of keeping potential troublemakers from your cinema – ban under-17s from late night screenings on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s the what the chairman and CEO of Kerasotes Theatres has started doing after a shooting incident at one of his cinemas. The article in the Chicago Tribune (Theater owner limits kids’ access, delays movies to stop problems) points out that the issue is not unique for Springfield, Ill:

Theaters nationwide have tried the no-kids approach for a variety of reasons, says Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theatre Owners. Some want to serve alcohol, he says. Sometimes having teens at mall-based theaters after closing time makes mall owners nervous.

“Too many kids hanging out, and people get worried,” Corcoran says.

Kerasotes, whose chain operates more than 800 movie screens, has tackled the issue head-on wherever he sees a problem — even if his methods draw criticism.

Teens under 18 in Cicero, Ill., and South Bend, Ind., are not admitted to movies without parents unless they attend a 10-minute “code of conduct” presentation, verified by an ID they must show.

I would love to see what the 10 minute ‘code of conduct’ presentation’ is like, but since I don’t live in Illinois and would not want to encourage someone to sneak in a camcorder and record it and share it on YouTube as that is very, very illegal in most US states, I guess I’ll probably never know.

With the town of Springfield having a large Latino population, the issue of race obviously comes up, but the truth is that it is at heart a age-related demographic-economic issue. Older patrons are becoming increasingly important to cinemas and they can’t have the perception of troublesome kids wrecking the cinema keeping the growing pool of well of OAPs away from screenings of ‘The Jane Austen Book Club‘ and similar genteel fare.

Kerasotes admits as much, when the article reveals that “Although last year’s shooting factored into his decision to try it, it’s more an attack on teens who have a “different culture of moviegoing,” text-messaging or conversing aloud with friends while the reels roll, Kerasotes says.” Completely age segregated multiplexes, anyone?

Patrick von Sychowski
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