HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — The next time you plan to see the newest blockbuster on the big screen, you might want to leave a little early. If the movie theater is owned by Regal Entertainment Group, you’ll probably be subject to a bag check.
“All they did was open and look. They didn’t actually go through it,” said movie-goer Jay Weinisch. He and his wife Dawn first noticed the new policy earlier this month.
“Two weeks ago we were here. I was surprised, but, it was perfectly fine with me.” said Dawn Weinisch outside the Regal Columbus Stadium 12 at Town Center in Virginia Beach. “I thought they were looking for the water bottle and they were going to take it away!”
Ticket takers were not, of course, looking for Weinisch’s water bottle, but they were looking for something else. A sign on the window at the ticket counter reads: “For the safety and comfort of all our guests: backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to entry into this facility.”
“[With] the recent news, I expected it to be sooner than this,” one movie-goer told WAVY.com.
Regal Entertainment Group owns about 600 theaters nationwide, and several in Hampton Roads. The full policy on their website reads:
Backpacks/Packages/Bags:Security issues have become a daily part of our lives in America. Regal Entertainment Group wants our customers and staff to feel comfortable and safe when visiting or working in our theatres. To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission. We acknowledge that this procedure can cause some inconvenience and that it is not without flaws, but hope these are minor in comparison to increased safety.
Some on the Regal Columbus Stadium 12 Facebook page claim the new policy is turning them away. One comment called the policy unjust and unfriendly to law-abiding citizens.
“Will not, under any circumstances, return to a Regal theater since you instituted the bag search policy,” one person wrote.
Another poster said, “Do you guys want to go out of business? Hassling women to check their purses?”
“I understand that, but I think it would be nice if people didn’t have guns in the movie theaters,” Jay Weinisch said. “I don’t think it’s that much to ask.”
On it’s website, Regal Entertainment Group acknowledges that the policy could be an inconvenience, but says they hope it is a minor issue compared to increased safety.
“I think that anything that will protect the citizens, people should have the patience to go through that,” Shirley Wilkie said.
WAVY.com did reach out to Regal Entertainment Group’s corporate office. We wanted to know if the people conducting the searches received specific training, and what they can do if they find something they deem to be suspicious. WAVY News had not heard back from the corporate office, as of Tuesday evening.