3RD UPDATE, 3:15 PM: The FBI just made this statement:
“The FBI’s Atlanta Field office is aware of the telephonic threats received by Carmike Cinemas and has initiated a criminal investigation into the matter. While the FBI takes seriously such threats or efforts to extort or intimidate companies engaged in interstate commerce, responding law enforcement, to date, have not developed evidence or information at those specific locations that would substantiate or elevate the threat. Anyone with information regarding this matter should contact the Atlanta Office FBI at tel. (404) 679-9000 or email at [email protected] .” – SA Stephen Emmett, FBI Atlanta.
And the corporate headquarters of Carmike Cinemas just issued this statement:
On the evening of August 16th, Carmike Cinemas received a non-specific telephoned bomb threat at our corporate offices in Columbus, Georgia after hours. We alerted community law enforcement officials and the FBI. Searches have been completed at the affected theatres by members of law enforcement and nothing was found.
A federal investigation is underway and Carmike is assisting with this as well as in the many communities where we have theatres. If additional details on the investigation are uncovered, we expect those to come from federal and local law enforcement agencies.
All theatres affected by the threat have been checked and deemed safe for use. Carmike Cinemas would like to express our thanks to the law enforcement agencies that quickly responded and ensured the safety of our guests.
2ND UPDATE, NOON: My sources say law enforcement authorities have swept all the 200 Carmike Cinemas playing The Expendables 2 and apparently found nothing suspicious. The theaters will be kept open for today’s release of Sylvester Stallone movie. Carmike execs have been in close contact with Lionsgate over this situation. The theater chain is telling Hollywood it’s a “disgruntled vendor” who called in the bomb threat to Carmike’s home office.
BREAKING… UPDATE 11 AM: All 200 Carmike theaters nationwide showing Lionsgate’s The Expendables 2 are “on alert” because of a bomb threat phoned in from a person claiming to represent a vendor service for the theater chain. A Carmike spokesman is confirming this to media outlets this morning. (Outside vendors service the theaters. Fox 5 News in Atlanta is reporting that the caller is believed to be a former employee.) The caller phoned in the threat to Carmike Cinema’s corporate office in Columbus, Ga. Terrell Mayton, the director of marketing for Carmike Cinemas, is telling media outlets that the phone calls were received at “locations across the country” and all involved showings of The Expendables 2, Sylvester Stallone’s action flick releasing today. “It opens this weekend and perhaps that’s part of generating attention for this individual or individuals, which is what they’re looking for,” Mayton is saying to media outlets. It’s not clear how these threats against Carmike will affect the overall box office grosses this weekend. The real question is how the resulting media coverage influences moviegoers in the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting tragedy. The Expendables 2 was expected to earn in the mid-$30sM through Sunday. According to MovieTickets.com, domestic box office ticket sales for The Expendables 2 accounted for nearly 19% of all transactions on Thursday.
As soon as the threats were received, law enforcement was brought in, Mayton said. “The safety of our guests and staff is our top priority.” The person on the call claimed to represent a vendor service utilized by Carmike, Mayton said. Whether theaters will continue on their operating schedule remains undecided until law enforcement representatives clear the buildings and deem them safe. Police in multiple jurisdictions are searching and securing the movie theaters, some with with Bomb Squad K-9 units. According to Fox News, emergency crews in Illinois responded to the report and set up a staging area with police, fire, and ambulance vehicles across the street from Carmike’s Orpheum Theater in Morris, Il. Police say the threats are nationwide, including the Atlanta to Oklahoma City regions and more.