Canadian theatre chain Cineplex has refuted a patron's claim of potential bedbug bites suffered at one of its downtown Toronto cinemas — a key screening venue for the city's upcoming film festival.
"After a thorough investigation overnight, which involved a specially trained sniffing dog and a secondary visual inspection, [Abell Pest Control] has confirmed that there were no bedbugs located within the Scotiabank Theatre," Cineplex said in a statement issued Tuesday morning.
"The safety and security of our guests and staff are our No. 1 concern, which is why we took this claim very seriously and acted immediately," Pat Marshall, Cineplex vice-president of communications and investor relations, added.
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"Recent media coverage related to two New York City theatres has caused a flurry of media calls and guest enquiries, and unfortunately has led many people to jump to erroneous conclusions. However, we took the matter seriously and fully investigated it."
After a moviegoer posted a Twitter update saying a friend suffered bites to his "back, bottom, thighs" while catching a film at the downtown multiplex, the allegation spread quickly via the social networking site.
Toronto International Film Festival co-director Cameron Bailey, an avid Twitter user, also chimed in on the fray.
"Before bedbugs becomes today's meme: We're on it, we're talking to Cineplex & are planning for an itch-free [festival]," he tweeted. The internationally covered and attended film fest begins Sept. 9.
Cineplex quickly reported that a full investigation was underway.
In recent years, Toronto hospitals, libraries, stores and upscale apartment buildings have all reported bedbug infestations.
Earlier this month, the pests were also reported to have infested a popular AMC movie theatre in New York's Times Square, sparking an investigation into all of the chain's Manhattan cinemas.