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Theater Owners Worried by ‘Juice’ Debut

January 18, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ Theater owners, reacting to the crowd violence that plagued ″Boyz ’N the Hood″ and ″New Jack City,″ beefed up security Friday as the Harlem-set film ″Juice″ opened on 1,000 screens nationwide.

Boston police said they had unconfirmed reports of several shots fired during a showing of ″Juice″ at the Loews Theater on Beacon Hill, and a revolver was found inside afterward. Nobody was injured and there were no arrests, police spokesman Tom Santry said.

Paramount Pictures, which is distributing the film, will pick up the tab for extra security at any theater that requests it, said spokeswoman Carol Jones.

But Jones was unable to say how many of theaters had taken the company up on its offer. The Loews and Cineplex Odeon chains are adding extra security, she said.

″Loews Theaters anticipates scheduling additional staff and security personnel as necessary,″ said a statement from Loews vice president Charles Goldwater. ″We hope that our customers will demonstrate toward us the same respect we have for them.″

At Cineplex Odeon, spokesman Jerry Bulger said simply ″it’s better to be prepared than unprepared.″ Race was not a factor, he said, pointing to the increased security set up when ″The Last Temptation of Christ″ opened.

The two chains would not say where security was beefed up or by how much. ″Juice″ is the story of four Harlem youths; one gets involved in a robbery that ends in murder.

Absorbing the security costs is the second step taken by Paramount to avoid a repeat of the violence that accompanied ″Boyz N the Hood″ and ″New Jack City.″ One person was killed and 35 wounded during incidents in 16 cities when ″Boyz″ opened; one person was killed in Brooklyn and 1,500 people rioted in Los Angeles when ″New Jack City″ debuted.

The company, which came under fire from police and rival studio executives for its marketing campaign of ″Juice,″ removed a picture of a handgun from the movie’s ads.

Like ″Boyz″ and ″New Jack City,″ ″Juice″ is a portrayal of inner-city life directed by a black filmmaker. Ernest Dickerson, who has worked in the past as Spike Lee’s cinematographer, directed and co-wrote ″Juice.″

The controversy over the movie has angered some black filmmakers, who are questioning why an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis can hold a gun in a movie poster while a black actor cannot.

″If Bruce Willis goes around shooting people in the head, it’s like, ’Oh, yeah 3/8 Bruce, we love you 3/8,‴ said ″Boyz″ director John Singleton. ″But if (rapper-actor) Ice Cube has a gun, everybody freaks out.″

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