Saturday, July 21, 2012

Area residents still come out to see Batman movie - News Virginian

By: Derek Micah Armstrong | The News Virginian

Moviegoers flocked to area theaters to see "The Dark Knight Rises" on Friday despite hearing a gunman killed 12 people in a Colorado movie theater at a midnight showing on Thursday.


"We aren't worried, but we are a little nervous because it can happen anywhere," said Alicia Gold, 33, of Waynesboro on Friday evening while heading into Zeus Digital Theaters with her husband, Joseph, 31, to watch the latest Batman movie. "You always hope it doesn't happen in your city."


Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of "The Dark Knight Rises" when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four guns into the crowd.


Zeus Digital Theaters in Waynesboro, which opened two years ago, did not increase security because its safety measures are good enough to keep moviegoers safe, owner Brett Hayes said Friday afternoon.


“We have never had an incident in our theater, not even a fist fight, since opening,” Hayes said. “We have always taken security seriously and we take care of our guests when they are here.”


However, Waynesboro police officers were increasing the number of patrols through Zeus' parking lot and lobby, Hayes said.


Twenty-one-year-old Stephen Huffman of Greenville said the shooting did not influence his decision to watch the Batman movie at Zeus Digital Theaters.


"You would hope there is not another idiot like him out there," said Huffman, adding he felt safe at Zeus.


Extra staff had already been planned at Staunton’s Visulite Cinemas for the opening weekend of “The Dark Night Rises,” General Manager Kajurn Waybright said. However, staff would be more alert because of what happened in Colorado, he said.


No additional security was planned at the Dixie Theater in Staunton, said Waybright, but staff regularly walk through the theater and will continue to do so this weekend. Dixie Theater is not showing “The Dark Night Rises,”


Zeus Digital Theaters, which has eight screens and sells 2,200 to 2,500 tickets daily, had a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie on Thursday, Hayes said.


"It went extremely well," he said. "Many of the people who saw it last night thought it was the best movie they have ever seen."


The "quality" of people living in the Valley and the "vigilant" staff at Zeus helps keep the theater safe, Hayes said.


"What happened was a terrible tragedy," Hayes said.


News Virginian reporter Bob Stuart contributed to this report.


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