Patrons of a Newport Beach cinema showing the Joel Edgerton directed thriller The Gift got a bigger scare than they expected when two or three screaming idiots with a leaf blower entered the theater during a late-night screening Saturday. Frightened by the loud, unexpected noise and the sight of the men, the crowd in the half-full Edwards Big Newport 6 cinema rushed to the exit, leaving three people injured.
“I’m sure that recent events were in the minds of those in the theater,” Jennifer Manzella of the Newport Beach Police told me today, referring to recent theater shootings. “However, we have no information that the suspects meant to cause direct harm.”
Intended or not, three patrons were injured in the melee. One was taken to nearby Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian with a leg injury but was released soon after. Theatergoer Kyndall Aldama posted this from inside an ambulance Saturday after the 10:51 PM incident.
Manzella discounted the idea that the suspects were copycatting the fatal July 23 Trainwreck screening shootings and the August 5 incident at a Nashville screening of Mad Max: Fury Road. According to police, the perps seemed to have gotten into the theater via an emergency exit. Theater Management was alerted to the activity when the emergency door alarm activated, Newport Beach Police said Monday. The alarm was quickly followed by reports from people who ran from the theater.
The police say they quickly arrived on the scene and set up a perimeter but the suspects were already gone. “The theater does have surveillance cameras and we are reviewing footage right now,” said Manzella this afternoon.
The Newport Beach police are looking for two to three suspects who are “White or Hispanic, in their late teens to early 30s.”
The Gift, starring Jason Batemanand Rebecca Hall and produced by Jason Blum and Rebecca Yeldham from Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment, is currently on 2,503 theaters across North America. The movie has grossed a larger than expected $11.8 million since it opened on August 7.