Will we ever feel safe in movie theaters again?

The deadly shootings at a Dark Knight Rises screening leaves moviegoers with a shattered sense of security that could keep some away from the theater for good

Police cars park outside a New York City movie theater
(Image credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan expressed his "profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy" that left 12 people dead and 58 injured after a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, he also lamented that the murderer's targets were people who'd let their guard down in a dark room for two hours of entertainment. "The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me," Nolan said in a statement. After Friday's tragedy, some moviegoers had reportedly decided not to see The Dark Knight Rises — or any other movie — in theaters, at least for the time being. Theaters around the country have beefed up security in the wake of the shootings, and risk analysts stress that the tragedy at the Colorado movie theater is an isolated incident, but has our feeling of safety at the movies been irrevocably destroyed?

Moviegoers won't feel completely safe until they regain their complacency: Despite the Colorado shootings, many people still went to see The Dark Knight Rises, says S.T. Vanairsdale at Movieline, telling themselves, "I can't let the [insert menacing perpetrator of violence here] win." But they probably didn't feel the way they once did at the movies, and they may never again. A lot of us will probably adjust our behavior, maybe by arriving "early to get a seat close-by an exit, but then second-guessing your position because [alleged gunman James] Holmes is said to have entered through an emergency exit." Most people won't feel safe, at least not until they regain their complacency. Because, ultimately, "it's easier to be complacent than paranoid."

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