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Theaters doubling down on security for Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening

Star Wars Alamo Drafthouse theater
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming out tomorrow and, while there is no short of excitement about the release, tensions are running high behind the scenes. Theater operators nationwide have added extra security measures for the opening, according to Deadline, as record ticket sales indicate the premiere may become one of the biggest entertainment events of the year.

With the film opening on 4,134 screens in the U.S. and Star Wars‘ dominant media presence, many theaters have brought in extra security staff for Friday, with some opting to heighten security over the weekend or even through the holiday season.

As one might expect, some theater owners are taking more steps than others, but those investing in security are reportedly hiring 2-3 times the number of guards they would need for a normal weekend. In addition to hiring additional staff, many venues will be checking bags and even using metal-detecting wands on patrons before they enter the theater.

In addition to the sheer number of people, a security expert suggested that the larger-than-average number of attendees in costume also represents a potential security concern.

Theater owners are wary in light of recent mass shootings in San Bernadino, California, Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as the coordinated ISIS attacks in Paris, which targeted an Eagles of Death Metal concert and a soccer match.

While there has been no official threat or warning from federal law enforcement, the National Association of Theater Operators have cited a pair of incidents at movie theaters in the last week as signs of a potential security issue. Two men approached a ticket booth at a southern California theater and asked a series of “suspicious” questions, like “How crowded is it going to be this weekend?” In Tempe, Arizona, two men walked into a theater without tickets and were recording the theater’s interior when they were caught by security.

Bottom line: You may want to get to the theater a little earlier than normal if you’re going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens when it opens to the public which begins tonight.

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