Yesha Callahan

Complaints Of Racial Profiling At Regal Cinemas In Silver Spring, Maryland During “The Butler” Showing


Did a Silver Spring, Maryland theater beef up their security because of “The Butler”?

During a Saturday night outing, Tiffany Flowers and Alan Houston went to a showing of “The Butler” at Regal Cinemas.  They said the added security of plainclothes police officers both inside and outside of the theater caught them off guard and only appeared to be for “The Butler”.

In an interview with DC’s WJLA, Flowers, a labor organizer, said there was talk about people being profiled at the movie theater.

“There were rumblings among the crowd about being profiled at the movies. They must have thought this was going to be a particularly rowdy crowd,” says Flowers. “I’ve traveled the world, been to a lot of movie theaters. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this.”

“I hope that Regal understands this treatment is deplorable, disgusting, and they owe us all an apology,” Flowers says.

“Our expectation is they will do the right thing. If not, there are a lot of eyes on this. I believe they’ll respond by not spending their money at a Regal movie chain,” Hanson says.

Russ Nunley, Regal Entertainment’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, emailed the following statement to WJLA:

Regarding your inquiry, 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.

Whether it was racial profiling or an added precaution because of the extra crowd, Regal Cinema has a PR mess on its hands. “The Butler” topped the weekend box office numbers with $25 million. 

  1. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    Hey, this is a reasonable response! After all, what could possibly more gangsta than a movie with Oprah Winfrey about a butler?

    Racism makes some people flat out stupid!

  2. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    Interested to know if they did this for the Avengers or Dark Knight Rises…

    • August 19, 2013 - Reply

      @Ash K

      As we all know, there actually was a mass shooting at the Dark Knight Rises premier on Colorado.

    • August 19, 2013 - Reply

      @Ash K

      For TDKR rises, I’m sure movie theaters did increase security given the circumstances in Colorado. However, had security continued to be strict following that, I’d understand this piss poor excuse Regal gave.

      But this – as well as similar stories surrounding Fruitvale Station- just show people instinctively assume black people riot at a moment’s notice when they’re emotionally moved. What’s funny is I didn’t hear any reports of theaters beefing security or concerns about blacks “taking matters into their own hands” when Django was released.

      It makes me wonder if it’s specifically the preconceived notion that a black film by a black director incites (d)anger in comparison to some white guy poking fun at history through his preferred form of storytelling. There wasn’t even this much security at the World War Z screening in Atlanta (at a Real Theatre mind you) when Brad Pitt was in town; further there wasn’t a heightened security this past weekend with a slew of new releases. So, this excuse is bull!

      What’s even worst: you won’t know about a sold out showing unless the movie receives the same treatment as the block buster movies you listed. Thus, they wouldn’t know if the Butler was sold out until after the fact. So, this refutes their claim that they do this for sold out showings. They really think people are stupid?

  3. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    I frequent this movie theater and it’s honestly one of my favorites in the DMV. I occasionally see security there on weekends but not to this extent. I am really disappointed at this response. I have gone to see other “blockbuster” films there that had a high attendance and sold out showings (that happened to attract a more racially “mixed” crowd) and never as much security as they are saying were there. Makes me consider going elsewhere to see The Butler (haven’t seen it yet)

  4. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    I go to this movie theater all of the time..there is usually a huge crowd, especially of teenagers on the weekends, but why Security would be needed extra heavy for this movie makes no sense to me smh

  5. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    There are ALWAYS a ton of security guards at this theatre on the weekend. I was there that evening and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. People are paranoid.

    • August 19, 2013 - Reply


      Yeh. I frequent this theater and was there that same night. The amount of security seemed normal for the big movie premieres there.

    • August 19, 2013 - Reply


      I live two blocks away from this theatre and there is always a ton of security. Not to mention there three festivals across the street this past weekend too. And, Kick Ass 2 opened on Friday also, so that movie theatre was extremely crowded. I’m not saying that they were definitely not racial profiling, but I feel there was just too much going on to determine that it was racial profiling.

      Also, there was a police chase that started in Pikesville, MD (northern suburb of Baltimore) went down to Silver Spring, and then west where it ended in Chevy Chase, MD. I’m not saying they amped up security for that reason at all, but Silver Spring was just hopping on Friday.

  6. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    Well surprise, surprise. Smh.

  7. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    yeah, usually when a movie is sold out or they have lines outside the movie there will be a security. Unless someone was assaulted or threatened I don’t see anything out of the norm.

  8. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    They just knew that a large crowd of blacks were going to start problems and violence. Nothing makes black people want to start rioting like watching a man playing a butler!!!! Everyone remembers the “Pie Riot” that occurred during the debut of The Help?? Neither do I.

  9. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    they should be profiling white men at theaters since they are the kind to shoot them up

    • August 19, 2013 - Reply


      I see what your trying to say but there actually was a shooting (by black men) at this theater site years ago. It is a predominantly Black/POC theater.

      There is pretty much no movie that is going to draw a large crown of white men there. From my experience at the Majestic, and the fact that I WAS THERE THAT NIGHT I sincerely believe that the added security was because of the crowd in general, since all the movies there draw a Black crowd.

  10. August 20, 2013 - Reply

    I actually go to this movie theater so I can speak from experience and it had NOTHING to do with racial profiling.This is one of the largest theaters in the area so when a movie first comes out the theater is ALWAYS packed and there is usually security. I’ve seen Think Like a Man, Fruitvale Station and Jumping the Broom(all black movies and most of the crowd was black)but I went a few weeks after it came out and there was no security. No one is denying that race is a problem in America but there is no need to attach every problem we face with race.

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