Theater changes policy following disturbance

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thursday was the anniversary of a Christmas night disturbance outside a Northside movie theater that went viral.

The disturbance at River City Marketplace included fighting and people jumping on cars. Thursday night, a movie theater representative said they have a contingency plan to make sure an incident like that doesn't happen again.

"I remember not being able to go to River City from my parents' rules for about a month after that," said 17-year-old Bridget Blair.

There were 600 teens and 62 police caught up in the disturbance in the parking lot of Hollywood Theaters just a year ago.


"I remember all the cops guarding and guiding everyone around the place," Blair said. "It was a big deal on the news and a big deal in people's homes. They really scared people."

The melee made national headlines and even resulted in five arrests. But this year, as more than 2,000 movie goers attended the theater. A new contingency plan to protect the public has been put in place to prevent a repeat of last year's trouble.

"I was about to go see 'Into the Woods' at 7:10, but it ends after 8 and I'm not allowed to," said Raven Blair.

That's because of the Regal Entertainment Group's new nationwide adult-accompaniment policy. It states that moviegoers 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult 21 and older after 8 p.m. daily. Since Raven Blair is only 15 and her sister is 17, they cannot be on the property after 8 p.m. without an adult.

But the sisters said they agree with the policy.

"I'm totally for the policy," Bridget said. "I think that's a good thing that they did after that happened."

"It makes me feel like I'm a little kid again," Raven said. "I think it's better because they don't want it to happen again."

A spokesperson from Hollywood Theaters said the company instituted the policy the day after last year's melee, and the theater has only experienced a 5 percent decrease in customers since.

This Christmas the theater also planned to have police officers on the property to ensure that everyone has a Merry Christmas and a safe night.