Ipswich Cineworld screen evacuated during Fifty Shades Darker over ‘smell of lighter fluid’
Film fans have criticised the way an Ipswich cinema dealt with fears a man was acting suspiciously during a showing of Fifty Shades Darker.
Sarah Woods and her friends were at Cineworld in Cardinal Park for the 7.30pm showing of the film on Friday night when one turned to her and asked if she smelled petrol.
After a number of other viewers raised similar concerns – with some suggesting it smelled more like lighter fluid – fears grew for the behaviour of a man sitting behind the group.
“This man was alone and dressed all in black with a rucksack,” said Ms Woods.
“We were worried, especially with the terror alert in this country being so high, that our lives could be in danger.
“It was all a bit surreal if I’m honest and everything unfolded so quickly. Lots of people said they could smell something like petrol and all of a sudden this guy ran down the stairs really fast and that’s when we decided to get out of the screen.”
She added: “When we got out Cineworld staff said screen four was being evacuated but they were still letting customers into screen five.”
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Initial checks were made by staff who said no trace of a flammable liquid had been found.
After searching the man they discovered he had in fact been in the wrong screen for nearly an hour – and was actually meant to be in screen five.
But emergency services were not called until customers decided to raise the alarm themselves, Ms Woods added.
She said: “The problem was for most of us it was a very frightening experience. I don’t know why they didn’t evacuate the whole building – what would have happened if that liquid was flammable and the whole place had gone up in flames.
“The manager said we’d get a refund or people could go back in but we didn’t want to.
“We called the police who came and said we did the right thing in ringing them.”
A Cineworld spokeswoman confirmed the screen was evacuated.
They said: “We can confirm that on Friday evening, a screening at Cineworld Ipswich was temporarily evacuated while the cinema dealt with an incident reported by customers.
“Once the incident was resolved, customers were able to return to the screen.
“We apologise for any inconvenience and offered refunds to customers who chose not to return. All screens at the cinema are open as usual.”