Cerabino: Popcorn lobby responds to panic at Boca Raton movie theater

News item: A Boca Raton movie theater was evacuated for several hours over the weekend after a report of “shots fired” and the activation of the theater’s fire alarm.

The culprit, police later learned, was an overheated popcorn machine in the Cinemark’s lobby.


Dear Cinemark management:

I am writing on behalf of the National Popcorn Association (NPA), a group of kernel-loving patriots who seek to preserve our precious rights to possess and fire heated corn. These rights were enshrined by Thomas “Jeffy Pop” Jefferson and the rest of our Foundering Fathers, or as we like to call them our Founding Pop-pers

It has come to our attention that popcorn popping has been blamed for causing a public panic in your Boca Raton theater last weekend. And we’d hate to see this be an excuse for the bucket-grabbers out there to enact popcorn control.

Some will make the argument that if we regulate the size of the bucket and number of rounds of refills, we would be safer. That less popping decreases the likelihood that the popping sound will be confused with gunfire.

It’s easy to point fingers after a popcorn stampede.

But once we go down this slippery, wipe-it-on-your-pants slope, what’s next? Banning the uncorking of Champagne? Criminalizing bubble wrap?

The overwhelming majority of concession stand operators fire popcorn in a way that doesn’t trigger evacuation alarms. And so the best answer to a bad popper with a vat of palm oil is a good popper with a vat of palm oil.

Popcorn is not a salt weapon. It’s a tool for enjoying the movie.

The real problem is the mental health of popcorn eaters and your role in furthering their cognitive decline.

Too many movies at your theater glorify violence and feature homicidal characters that scare your patrons and make them imagine worlds of practically nonstop fatal combat and peril.

It’s amazing they don’t stampede with the sound of somebody popping a wad of Bazooka bubble gum in your lobby.

The most popular offering at your theater when this incident occurred was “Avengers: Infinity War” — 156 minutes of cinematic violence.

“The plot consists of bits: a fiery slugfest, a pause for bonding, a quick weep, and a patch of jokey repartee, before the slugging returns,” wrote Anthony Lane in his New Yorker magazine review of the movie.

Meanwhile, on other screens in your theater, audiences were being scared out of their wits by “Bad Samaritan,” a suspense thriller that revolves around a harrowing woman captive, and “Traffik,” a thriller about a couple’s mountain vacation that turns to peril when they fall prey to a biker gang.

And then there were the outright horror movies playing there too, such as “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare,” a movie about how a harmless party game turns evil as the liars get punished by an unseen force, or “A Quiet Place,” a movie about a family of four who must stay quiet so as not to alert the awful creatures hunting them.

Movie critic Kevin A. Ranson, writing for MovieCrypt.com, had this to say about that movie: “This is the kind of thriller that gets under your skin and stays with you after you leave the theater.”

Right into the lobby where the popcorn machine is popping. No wonder why audiences are spooked and ready to bolt.

So don’t blame the popcorn. We here at the NPA remind you that we are here to preserve our popping rights, and that we are a strong lobby lobby.

Be forewarned: You will get our popcorn only by prying it from our warm, greasy fingers.

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