Our story about the bedbug problems at the AMC movie theaters in Times Square and Harlem caught the eye of AMC Theatres "Social Media" manager Ryan Noonan, who sent us this statement about how AMC is fighting the bloodthirsty critters that have overrun Gotham. Here it is in full; please save your eye-rolling until the end:
At AMC Theatres, the health and safety of our guests and associates is of the utmost importance and we take every guest report seriously. That’s why we have taken aggressive and proactive steps to help ensure our theatres remain free of bed bugs.
For example, a guest reported she received a bed bug bite at our AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 theatre on July 30. We immediately contacted pest control specialists. Upon learning that bed bugs were inside some auditoriums, we promptly closed the theatre and quickly began treatment. The theatre was not reopened until cleared by our pest control specialists.
Despite our theatre in Harlem being the only one with a report of bed bugs, we proactively inspected every one of our theatres in Manhattan. At AMC Empire 25, this inspection occurred on Aug. 3 and detected bed bugs on two of the 4,700 seats inside the theatre. Those seats were immediately removed and treated that day.
Based on our pest control specialists’ recommendation, we retreat theatres two weeks after their initial treatment. In the case of our Empire 25 theatre, the two-week follow up treatment occurs today (Aug. 17). Unfortunately, a guest reported bed bug bites at Empire 25 this past weekend, so we quickly re-inspected the auditorium in question and upon finding bed bugs in that auditorium, which had previously tested negative on Aug. 3, we immediately closed it until it receives treatment tonight. Empire 25 will be treated again in two weeks in accordance with our prevention policy. We will continue to vigorously inspect our theatres and instantly treat any bed bug detections.
Now we're just laymen, but the strategy of removing a couple of seats to get rid of bedbugs seems laughably futile. (Anyone who's done any paranoid, late-night Internet reading on bedbugs knows how resilient these bastards are.) So we got on the horn with entomologist Jeffrey White, who works with Bed Bug Central and is the host of BedBug TV. (Yes, the bedbugs have their own show.) And while he thinks treating the chairs is "a great approach," he points out that AMC "could touch a movie theater with a magic wand today and eradicate all the begbugs, but then someone could come in the next day and they'd be back." In other words, don't blame the parasite, blame the host.
We told White we've decided to simply stop going to the movies, and he laughed in our face (over the phone): "Not going to movies anymore simply isn't a solution. Bedbugs can be anywhere: at your office, on a train or a bus, anywhere!" Thanks for that. We asked him what we can do to stay parasite-free, and he suggested that we "take as few items as you can into theater, because that lessens the chance that you'll take something home with you. You can also inspect yourself closely when you come out, because you can see adult bedbugs. And if you really want to be safe, you can take off clothes immediately when you come home and put them in hot dry cycle, which will kill bugs." And after that, you can pray.