On October 11, 1997, I wrote the following letter to Cinemark USA, which operates nearly 300 movie theatres in the USA, including the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.
Dear Cinemark USA:
My family and I were recently at the Cinemark Theatre “Movies Ten” at Chesapeake Square Mall in Chesapeake, Virginia. Although we had visited this theatre a few times before, this was the first time I noticed their “No Handguns” sign. I spoke to the manager and reminded her that this only dissuades people who are not criminals, thus placing their law-abiding customers at the mercy of muggers and rapists. I told her that this sign is little more than an invitation to rapists and muggers to come to Movies Ten and prey upon the helpless victims there, and that as long as this policy was in effect, I would take my family elsewhere.
The manager said that the “No Handguns” policy was not under her control, that it is required by the Cinemark home office. I got the distinct feeling that she would be happier without my family’s patronage, and that she could care less that she was endangering her customers by keeping this policy in effect.
My family’s safety is worth a little inconvenience, and there are more than enough movie theatres that do not recklessly endanger their customers. I thought that you should be made aware of this dangerous policy, in the event that you care about your customers’ safety.
On Friday, April 17, 1998, I followed up with this letter.
I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that, as we do every Friday night, my wife and I are going out to the movies. We have a lot of movies to choose from, and a lot of movie theatres to pick from. There is one movie theatre we won’t be going to, however: the Chesapeake Square theatre run by Cinemark.
The Cinemark theatre posts signs at its entrances telling criminals that Cinemark’s patrons are disarmed — easy prey. My family’s safety is more important than the convenience of going to the nearest movie theatre. It is well worth the peace of mind to me and my wife to know that when we go out to the movies, if there are any criminals armed and waiting to prey upon the theatre’s patrons, the criminals won’t be the only ones armed.
It may be that I never witness a massacre like the one at Luby’s Cafeteria, or Dunblane, or Port Arthur, or recently in Arkansas. I hope I never see such a thing. But one thing I do know: I won’t take my family anywhere that enforces policies designed to make such tragedies more likely.
My family won’t be going to Cinemark for our weekly movie night, not until you take our safety (not to mention the safety of your employees!) seriously.
My heart goes out to the families of those who were killed in this tragedy, and I hope the people responsible for it get what they deserve.
In 2008, Cinemark CEO Alan Stock donated $9,999 toward the successful passage of California’s Proposition 8, an initiative restricting the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and overturning the California Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.