‘La La Land’ Theater Incident Sparks Audience Stampede in New York

“Popcorn started flying, candy bars went flying through the air, people were jumping over their seats,” one moviegoer explains

Last Updated: December 19, 2016 @ 9:55 AM

A man’s erratic behavior during a Saturday showing of “La La Land” touched off a stampede of fleeing attendees into the lobby at the Regal Cinemas in New York’s Union Square.

According to CBS, people witnessed a man holding a cup and a bag walking up towards the center of the movie screen, who then turned around while mumbling.

“Popcorn started flying, candy bars went flying through the air, people were jumping over their seats,” Ben Gilbert, who sat in the fourth row during the movie, told the publication.

CBS reported that another moviegoer called it her “worst nightmare” and said that she thought she was going to die for about 30 seconds. However, no witness claimed to have seen a gun and the man allegedly ran away with the crowd.

Attendees now claim the theater management didn’t handle the incident properly, adding that the staff didn’t even know what was happening.

“People were angry and upset and I think it would’ve been solved, I think with a little leadership from the management there,” said Gilbert, although other moviegoers said they were offered a refund.

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told TheWrap, “There was a rapid dispersement in a movie theater, an individual did walk to the front of the auditorium and started mumbling and was holding a cup in his hand, which caused a chain reaction of people dispersing rapidly into the lobby. There was no weapon displayed — the man did buy a ticket to another movie at a different time. No injuries were reported.”

The stampede comes amid heightened anxiety after several shootings in movie theaters in past years. In 2012, a man named James Holmes opened fire during a midnight screening of Christopher Nolan‘s “The Dark Knight Rises.” And last July, John Russel Houser entered a July 23 screening of the Judd Apatow comedy “Trainwreck” and opened fire with a handgun, injuring at least seven people and killing two, taking his own life after.

Regal Cinemas has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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