Crowd denied movie theater entry after mall fight
Editor in Chief
Monday, August 28, 2023
AMC West Oaks 14 closed late Sunday on National Cinema Day — when movie tickets were $4 — after a fight broke out in the mall. Jared, an Ocoee resident, pictured talking with Ocoee Police, had purchased tickets for his family to see Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. AMC told VoxPopuli the $4 tickets will be honored.
A large crowd of Black teenaged movie-goers, trying to take advantage of National Cinema Day’s $4 ticket prices, was denied entry into AMC West Oaks 14 Sunday evening when the theatre suddenly stopped the movies already in progress and shut its gate.
According to Ocoee Police officers on the scene, a fight had broken out, some kids were causing “a ruckus,” and the movie theatre, together with West Oaks Mall management, decided to shut down as the mall closed. It was unclear where the fight had occurred. Ocoee Police Chief Saima Plasencia declined to provide further comment.
Meanwhile, disappointed young ticket-holders milled in front of the gate, hoping it would re-open, as police began moving the crowd toward the exits.
One 14-year-old showed off his paper ticket for for Gran Turismo, which he said he bought “like an hour ago” while another 14-year-old said he was waiting to see Dungeons and Dragons.
Outside the mall, a police officer walked the sidewalk, announcing, “If you do not leave, you will be arrested.”
In the parking lot, Jared of Ocoee, said he’d bought tickets “three hours ago” for his seven boys to see Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, but had been turned away from the theater by police. “They shut down the mall because of chaos or something,” he said.
“The one day it’s only four dollars!” groused Tiara, 21, standing in the parking lot with her friends. “Why don’t they do it when it’s expensive!” she said, referring to the fight that took place.
“Everybody going to jail if they don’t go home. Everybody wanna fight instead of watching a movie. They need discipline,” chimed in Lala, 15.
“They need to go to church,” Tiara said. “On Sundays, we go to church. Go to church and find Jesus, and this wouldn’t have happened.”
Reached late Monday afternoon, Alan S., a manager at the AMC West Oaks 14, who declined to give his last name, told VoxPopuli that the movie theater eventually re-opened Sunday to approximately 1,000 guests between 6:30 and 9 p.m. He described the shut down as a “little hangup of about 30 to 45 minutes where operations were, um, distracted.”
“After they cleared the mall, we took about 15 minutes to catch our breath, and then we reopened,” he said. “As long as they had a ticket, they could come up to the front entrance of the mall. They could show Ocoee PD that confirmation, and then we would let them in.
Alan said that AMC West Oaks 14 will honor the $4 tickets. “If for whatever reason [guests] weren’t able to join us that day, they can bring their ticket up this week and we’ll take care of them for sure. National Cinema Day is all about having fun and enjoying the movies. It is unfortunate that a couple people wanted to try and take that experience away. But, you know, we rise above that stuff."
This is a developing story.
Updated Aug. 30 to reflect Ocoee Police Dept. refusal to comment.