If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I have my issues with the Majestic, however I feel like I'm obligated to defend it from accusations that have been leveled against it this week. In case you haven’t seen the story, a patron who attended a showing of Lee Daniels’ The Butler at the theater this past weekend was shocked to see armed guards working security in the lobby and in the theater, and believed that the security was somehow targeting this particular film's predominately African-American audience. (You can read her whole series of tweets here.)
She did mention this was her first time at the Majestic, so she wouldn’t have any way of knowing that this is par for the course for the theater on busy nights. There are always off-duty officers handling security on the weekends. In fact, when you are attending a popular movie like this one, you probably want the extra scrutiny – without it, you’d have people purchasing tickets for other films taking up seats in your sold-out theater. This will leave some of those with valid tickets without a seat – I’ve been in overcrowded theaters where legit ticketholders were stuck watching a movie from the steps because so many people had snuck into their show and taken up seats. Why they have security guards instead of ushers handling this responsibility, I don't know.
It does seem somewhat ridiculous that a movie theater would need guards packing heat, but I suppose off-duty police officers with sidearms are more likely to deter potential troublemakers (or take down crazed gunmen) than toothless mall cop security guards. Maybe the "optics" are bad if you take the whole scene out of context, but having been to this theater countless times, I'm just accustomed to it. I guess it makes a good story for the media, though.
I'm sure the theater would rather not have to cover the costs for extra security guards, the wages of whom are likely far more than those of revenue-generating positions like concession workers. God knows they could use more of those.