Monday, July 7, 2003
Kansas City, Mo. When Jennifer Garretson brought her 3-year-old son to the Cinemark Palace on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza, she was shocked to be turned away. Garretson was one of several parents who hadn't heard that children younger than 6 were no longer welcome at the movie theater -- even if they were accompanied by their parents.
"We didn't know anything about it, so it was kind of rotten," said Garretson, of Wichita, standing next to her 3-year-old son, Samuel, on Thursday.
On Saturday, several young children carried signs protesting the theater's new policy, which also prohibits kids between ages 6 and 16 unless accompanied by a parent.
Theater officials have said they are not trying to exclude children, but instead reinforcing a more adult-oriented film menu. Terrell Falk, spokeswoman for Dallas-based Cinemark USA, said the theater would no longer show movies rated G or PG. Instead, fliers in the lobby announce the theater will show "adult films, independent films and films geared toward adult audiences."
The policy applies only to the Palace, not to Cinemark's other area theater in Merriam. The Palace is their only theater with a room where adults can drink alcohol while watching a movie.
Theater staff appeared to be stopping families with children who clearly were younger than 6. Several groups with kids who appeared borderline bought tickets without a challenge.
"I can see that part about having a parent along, but if the parents are there with their children, it's crazy," said Sherry Parks, of Chillicothe, Mo., who came to the theater with Garretson and her son.
Among the movies showing at the Palace are action films "Terminator 3" and "The Hulk," the comedy "Legally Blonde 2" and the horror film "28 Days Later." Fitting the new policy, the popular cartoon "Finding Nemo" was not being shown.
Gigi Lanear of Kansas City and her 4-year-old son, Darion, also were turned away at the box office after learning of the new policy.
"I think it's stupid," she said. "If you're going to have PG-13 movies, it's not the little kids that will fuss; it's the teenagers. I can understand at night not letting them in, but during the day, no one is here."