Moviegoers Accuse Regal Cinema Of Racial Profiling At 'The Butler' Screening

Kirsten Acuna

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" may have had an excellent box-office weekend; however, the viewing experience wasn't a good one for everyone.

One couple complained about what appeared to be heightened security at a Regal Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland at a showing for "The Butler."

According to Tiffany Flowers and Alan Honson, there were police officers throughout the theater, with some ushering people into seating for "The Butler." The officers then continued to face the crowd while the film played.

Flowers first tweeted about the situation in the Maryland theater, before catching media attention.

First, here's Flowers' account of the situation Twitter.

I'd like to take this time to express my utter disgust with @RegalMovies cinema in Silver Spring, MD. You all should stay away from here.

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

.@hanson_alan and I went to see #TheButler @RegalMovies last night and let me tell you what an unpleasant experience it was...

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

Tickets were double validated. First they get torn then upon entering the theater (10 FT. AWAY) we were asked for stubs again. @RegalMovies

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

Then as soon as we enter the theater we were greeted by an actual police officer who herded traffic in one direction. @RegalMovies

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

Once we get around the corner and start looking for seats we see yet another police office inside the theater facing patrons. @RegalMovies

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

This was our first (and final) trip @regalmovies but we were told that this is completely out of the ordinary. #TheButler

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

The almost entirely black audience of #TheButler was subjected to watching the film while armed guards faced the audience. Why? @RegalMovies

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

Now, here's what Hanson had to say:

Saw #thebutler last night with @MsFlowersTweets. I have a few questions for the good people at @RegalMovies Silver Spring.

— Alan Hanson (@hanson_alan) August 18, 2013

.@RegalMovies Question1: is it a common practice to subject patrons to a secondary ticket check at the door? #TheButler

— Alan Hanson (@hanson_alan) August 18, 2013

.@RegalMovies Question 2: kindly explain why you posted an armed security guard in the theater who directed us like cattle. #thebutler

— Alan Hanson (@hanson_alan) August 18, 2013

.@RegalMovies Question 3: why did you post ANOTHER armed security guard at the front of the theater? #TheButler

— Alan Hanson (@hanson_alan) August 18, 2013

.@RegalMovies Final Q: pls explain why, when asked if security is always this tight, fellow patrons said absolutely not. #TheButler

— Alan Hanson (@hanson_alan) August 18, 2013

The couple says the audience for the film was predominantly African American.

"There were rumblings among the crowd of being profiled at the movies, and they must have thought this was going to be a particularly rowdy crowd," Flowers later told local ABC News outlet WJLA.

The Weinstein Company film starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey was the top film at the box office this weekend earning $25 million. The film follows the life of butler Cecil Gaines (Whitaker) who served under eight presidencies. 

There haven't been any reports of similar occurences in other theaters nationwide.

"They had what I thought were bulletproof vests," Hanson told ABC News. "They had sidearms. They looked serious."

Here's the ABC report:

Regal Cinemas responded with the following statement saying its protocol for sold out shows:

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 showtimes 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 guests needs. 

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.

Flowers later took to Twitter after speaking with a Regal Movies' manager.

I spoke to Akiem (manager @RegalMovies). He informed me that all big selling movies have this type of crowd control. #TheButler

— Tiffany (@MsFlowersTweets) August 18, 2013

See Also:

SEE ALSO: How much the giant pile of money on "Breaking Bad" is worth