Movie Studio Offers to Pay for Security at ‘Compton’ Screenings

Erich Schwartzel, Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2015

Universal Pictures is offering to reimburse theaters for security guards during opening-weekend screenings of “Straight Outta Compton,” according to several theater executives.

The unusual step was prompted by a combination of recent attacks against moviegoers, continuing racial tensions across the country and the rap biopic’s gang-oriented subject matter.

Some theaters in major cities are taking the Comcast Corp.-owned studio up on the offer, according to one film buyer, particularly as demonstrations have continued this week against police tactics in Ferguson, Mo.

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The film’s Monday night premiere in Los Angeles featured unusually heavy security, including metal detectors for guests to pass through, and several street closures in the surrounding area. The event was peaceful.

Major theater chains often hire security for busy weekends, and “Straight Outta Compton” is expected to draw large crowds and easily top the box office after opening this Friday. But it is rare for a particular movie to prompt security. In 1991, some theaters hired security personnel for screenings of the gang drama “Boyz N The Hood.”

“Straight Outta Compton” tells the story of N.W.A., the controversial rap group founded by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube that became known for gritty tales of gang life and drug dealing. Its 1988 song “F— tha Police” was especially incendiary.

The movie features several scenes of gang violence in south Los Angeles and of aggressive police tactics, including footage of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by city police. {snip}

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