A local couple took to Twitter to complain about what they think was racial profiling, saying the Regal Theater in Silver Spring had a huge amount of security for a showing of the new movie "The Butler."
That couple says the increased security appeared to be only for "The Butler." The cast of the movie about a longtime White House butler is primarily African American and the couple says the audience was also mostly African American.
They say the security caught them off guard: plainclothes police officers both inside and outside of the theater.
"They had on what looked to me like bullet-proof vests, sidearms, a badge sewn into their shirts. They looked serious," says Alan Hanson.
"There were rumblings among the crowd about being profiled at the movies. They must have thought this was going to be a particularly rowdy crowd," says Tiffany Flowers. "I've traveled the world; been to a lot of movie theaters. This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this."
Flowers, who is a labor organizer, took her frustrations to social media, where hundreds are weighing in. Outside the theater, some patrons said they had heard of the extra security.
But Bonita Dews says, "I don"t have a problem with it. I know who I am. That doesn't bother me because I really wanted to see it."
"I hope that Regal understands this treatment is deplorable, disgusting, and they owe us all an apology," Flowers says.
"Our expectation is they will do the right thing. If not, there are a lot of eyes on this. I believe they'll respond by not spending their money at a Regal movie chain," Hanson says.
Responding to a request for comment from the theater chain, Russ Nunley, the vice president of marketing and communications for Regal Entertainment Group, issued this statement:Regal Entertainment Group routinely employs security personnel to ensure the safety of all of our guests and staff. When a theatre experiences sold out showings of any feature, security will assist with crowd control and guest assistance throughout the facility, including auditoriums.
This weekend our Majestic theatre experienced a tremendous guest response to the feature 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' such that additional showtimes were added to meet our guests demands.
At no time last night did local management receive any guest complaints or concerns about our security or staff, who worked diligently to meet all of our guests needs.
To the extent any guests were disappointed with their experience, we welcome the opportunity to address their concerns and provide them the best entertainment experience possible in their future visits to our theatres.