Related topics

Violence Accompanies Opening Weekend of ‘New Jack City’

March 11, 1991 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A shootout outside a theater showing the film ″New Jack City″ left one young man dead and police reported violent incidents at other theaters showing the movie over the weekend.

In cities from New York to Los Angeles, violence erupted at theaters where the film based on the real-life New York drug lord, Nickie Barnes, opened Friday.

The film’s director and co-star, Mario Van Peebles, said the movie is not ″a heavy gang movie″ and should not be blamed. But police in Las Vegas said the movie attracted a violent audience.

″It’s the type of movie that will draw the gangs to it,″ Las Vegas police Sgt. William Reed said.

In Brooklyn, an 18-year-old man was arrested Saturday for investigation in the death of Gabriel Williams, 19, who was killed by a single shot to the chest during a shootout outside the UA Duffield Theater in Brooklyn Heights.

More than 100 shots were fired, some from an automatic weapon, police said. Arrested after the Friday shooting was Shawn Curry, Detective Dennis Singleton said.

An automatic handgun was recovered from the dead man, who fired some shots during the dispute, Singleton said. No weapon was recovered from Curry, who was arrested for investigation of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

″They had some kind of an argument in the theater and it continued outside,″ said police Sgt. Tina Mohrmann.

Since the movie about a powerful Harlem crack dealer and his violent henchmen premiered:

- A passerby was shot in the leg when rival gangs exchanged 15 to 20 gunshots at a downtown Chicago theater following a screening Saturday.

- A man received a minor stab wound early Sunday outside a Chicago South Side theater showing the film.

- Eighteen people were arrested at a Las Vegas theater where two gang brawls erupted Friday night. No one was seriously injured, but one of those arrested was carrying a semiautomatic gun.

- An estimated 1,500 people rioted Friday night in Los Angeles when a theater oversold tickets to the film and began turning people away. Stores were looted during the 2 1/2 hour melee. Nine people were arrested.

- Three police officers and a civilian were hurt when a fight between two people in the lobby of a Sayreville, N.J., theater on Friday escalated into other fights.


The Warner Bros. movie, starring Wesley Snipes as a flashy Harlem crack dealer named Nino Brown, earned $2 million on its debut night, according to Van Peebles. It was showing in about 800 theaters across the country.

Peebles said the Los Angeles violence occurred because there were not enough screens showing the movie to accommodate patrons.

Telephone calls to distributors of the film seeking comment on whether the violence might cause them to cancel screenings of the movie were not immediately returned.

A tape recording at the Los Angeles theater where the riot broke out said showings of ″New Jack City″ had been cancelled there. A call to the Las Vegas theater was not immediately returned. Telephone lines were busy during repeated attempts to call the Brooklyn and New Jersey theaters.

In Chicago, a downtown theater manager who declined to identify herself would not comment on whether it would continue showing the film. The phone at the South Side theater answered with a recording.

Other movies have been associated with off-screen violence in the past.

Last Christmas, a teen-ager was slain and three were wounded in a gunfight inside a crowded movie theater in Valley Stream, Long Island, during a showing of ″The Godfather Part III.″

A gang member was shot and killed outside a Stockton, Calif., theater showing ″Colors,″ the 1988 film about Los Angeles street gangs. Violence also broke out in several Los Angeles-area theaters.

10-91 2112EST