The movie theater at Franklin Park Mall will adopt a mall policy that restricts access to anyone 17 or younger after 4 p.m. on Fridays or Saturdays unless they are accompanied by an adult, effective this weekend.
Fliers were seen at the mall regarding the new policy — which requires teens to be supervised by someone 21 years or older. A Franklin Park spokesman confirmed Cinemark Theater is adopting the mall’s policy, which was implemented in January, 2015. A message left for a Cinemark representative at the company’s Plano, Texas headquarters was not returned Tuesday afternoon.
“Cinemark has made that decision internally as a tenant of the mall,” mall spokesman Casey Pogan said. “The teens can still come to the mall as long as they have an adult with them.”
Emily Manner, 16, a senior at Notre Dame Academy, said that even though it will only affect her for a year — she turns 17 soon — the new policy limits safe activities for teenagers and discriminates against them simply for their age.
“There's always been an identity crisis with teenagers and kids being told to act like an adult and do certain things, while also being treated like a child,” she said.
Ms. Manner left a negative review criticizing the policy change on the theater’s Facebook page and asked her friends to do the same. She pointed to reviews from adults that, while at times describe inappropriate behavior by teenagers that she said should be addressed, also include complaints simply about the presence of teens at the theater.
“They are just having fun with a group of their friends,” she said.
In 2015, mall officials said the policy was not a response to any specific event, but the change followed an incident where police tried to remove a large group of people after a fight broke out. Ruckuses involving large groups of teenagers had occurred in several U.S. cities in the weeks prior, and other malls had adopted similar restrictions on teens.
Minneapolis' Mall of America, the country's largest mall, was one of the first to implement such a policy in 1996, prompting complaints from some that the decision was at least in part racially motivated.
Franklin Park Mall staff are stationed at entrances and can ask guests to show valid identification to determine their age. The mall’s policy change in 2015 at the time did not apply to the Cinemark Theater on the mall's second level.