A lot of people are talking about Lee Daniels' "The Butler," which took the No. 1 spot at the box office opening weekend.
Two moviegoers who went to see the film left the theater feeling insulted, not because of the film, but because they were forced to watch it under the
surveillance of armed security guards.
Tiffany Flowers and her boyfriend Alan Hanson attended a Saturday 8 p.m. showing at the Regal Majestic Stadium 20 theater in Silver Spring, Md., where they
immediately noticed the unusually heavy police presence.
"The Butler" is based on the true story of Eugene Allen, an African-American White House butler whose 34-year tenure spanned eight presidential
administrations. Because the film drew a predominantly black audience, Flowers and Hanson are saying the theater took unnecessary steps to beef up
Flowers told The Grio that
moviegoers—most of whom were African-American—were met with double ticket validation, a police officer directing them to their seats, and armed guards
facing them throughout the entire film.
Flowers responded to the experience the morning after with a series of tweets, which were followed by an
uproar of support and calls for protest and boycotts. Flowers saw the most response from this tweet:
Flowers also tweeted at Oprah Winfrey, who stars in the film opposite Forest Whitaker.
Flowers' story has been picked up by local stations nationwide. Amid the social media backlash, Russ Nunley, VP of marketing and communications for Regal
Entertainment Group, released a statement on Sunday:
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 show times 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
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.
Regal apparently sees no wrongdoing on its part. The statement certainly does not contain the public apology that the Silver Spring couple was hoping for.
Hanson also mentioned on Twitter that the Saturday 8 p.m. showing was, in fact, not
Flowers told The Grio she spoke with the manager of the theater on Sunday, who informed her the theater uses "crowd control" when they believe a
movie will have a big opening. The manager reported the theatre used no security guards for last week's top-billing movie "Elysium." When Flowers asked for
the last movie which warranted armed security, she was told, "Harry Potter."
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This isn't the first time moviegoers have threatened to boycott the country's biggest movie theater chain. Earlier this year, many people took to Facebook
to protest the company decision to cut hours in response to Obamacare.