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Malfunctioning alarm empties AMC theater on Saturday

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Patrons wait outside the AMC Theater in Greenville on Saturday afternoon. A fire alarm forced the building's evacuation, and a delay in resetting the alarm meant some showings were cancelled.

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A malfunctioning fire alarm forced the evacuation of AMC Fire Tower 12 shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday, forcing audiences to miss at least 10 movies that were already playing or getting ready to start.

Initially management said audience members would be re-admitted and allowed to finish the movies. But when the problem wasn’t fixed within 30 minutes, management announced they wouldn’t be able to finish the films and gave audience members passes for re-admittance at a late date.

The largest affected group of movie-goers were those who watching turned the newly released “Black Panther.” The critically acclaimed film, the first featuring a black superhero, had two sold-out showings already underway and a third was about to begin.

Many of those audience members were upset because while there were still 16 remaining showings between 5 p.m. and midnight on Saturday, the majority were nearly sold out and it was unclear if couples or families could sit together.

“You know that cliffhanger moment? He went over a cliff, and we were waiting to see what happened,” said Jacqui Dechabert-Rios who brought her two children to the show. Their showing was about 15 minutes from ending when the alarm went off.

“This is upsetting. He (the manager) needs to do more than hand us a pass and see if we can get a seat,” she said.

There also was confusion about whether the pass could be used within the next week to see the movie or if it would have to be used for a less popular movie.

“With a full slate of movies for the day, especially on a very busy weekend, it is not always possible to restart a movie after a significant delay,” an AMC corporate spokesman said in a written statement.

“We never want a situation like this to occur, and we sincerely apologize for the frustration and inconvenience. Any passes issued to impacted guests would be good for any future movie, including ‘Black Panther.’ If anyone has any issues gaining admittance with the pass they were issued, they should speak with a manager,” the spokesman said.

A mechanical malfunction caused the alarm to sound, a theater manager said.

Greenville Fire-Rescue was brought it to inspect the theater and re-set the alarm but there was a problem.

The theater’s management initially said a technician was being called in to repair the problem. A few minutes later, at about 3:40 p.m., management announced they had found a way to work around the problem and would begin seating audiences for movies starting at 3:15 p.m. and later.

Seven other movies including “Peter Rabbit”, “50 Shades Freed” and “Early Man” also were playing when the alarm sounded.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or f252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.

 

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