Toronto

Cineplex cancels film 'Theri' after 'noxious' spray forces evacuation of 3 GTA theatres

Cineplex Inc. says it is canceling all remaining showings of the film Theri​ across Toronto after three separate GTA movie theatres had to be evacuated Friday because a noxious substance — possibly pepper spray — was released into the air.

'There were a lot of children that were out screaming and crying,' 911 caller said

Three GTA movie theatres were evacuated on Friday because of attacks with a noxious substance, prompting police in Peel and toronto to see if there's a connection between the incidents. (Cineplex)

Cineplex Inc. says it is canceling all remaining showings of the film Theri​ across Toronto after three separate GTA  movie theatres had to be evacuated Friday because a noxious substance — possibly pepper spray — was released into the air.

Cineplex theatres in Brampton, Scarborough and Mississauga all reported similar incidents, with the spray released in one auditorium in each theatre around 7 p.m., according to information from police agencies and Cineplex Inc.

Police are investigating to find out if the three incidents were linked in any way. There is no word yet on what connection, if any, the film might have with the release of the substance.

Tania Gasparatto said she heard screams before the fumes stung her eyes on Friday inside the Rathburn Road theatre in Mississauga. She and her 11-year-old daughter had been getting their tickets punched when she heard shouting from an auditorium on the upper level.

Weeping and gagging

"As I got to the top of the stairs and inhaled, that's when I knew something was wrong because I was met with this intense acidic vapour," she said. "My nostrils started to burn and my throat started to burn."

Gasparatto saw other patrons inside the auditorium coughing, weeping and gagging. She said there was vomit on the floor.

Gasparatto helped a woman get downstairs and outside the theatre before calling 911. She said that those inside the auditorium told her the movie had just begun to play when they could smell something in the air and their eyes began to hurt.

Emergency crews arrived and helped staff evacuate the building.

'It was really heartbreaking'

"There were a lot of children that were out screaming and crying," Gasparatto said. "It was really heartbreaking. And it makes you almost paranoid. I look around thinking, 'Where can I not go now?'"

Peel police officers have been in touch with their Toronto counterparts to see if their investigations have turned up any similarities, Const. Caroline de Kloet told CBC. She said that while they have not confirmed the incidents are connected, they have not ruled it out.

The Scarborough Town Centre's food court and movie theatre had already been targeted on April 16.

It's unclear exactly how the spray made its way into the Rathburn Road theatre in Mississauga, the Brampton SilverCity or the Scarborough Town Centre.

Cineplex has been working with police to help with their investigation and are taking "precautionary measures" to ensure the theatres are safe, the firm's spokeswoman, Sarah Van Lange said in an email Monday.

Lange confirmed Tuesday that the showings of Theri were cancelled following the incidents, but would not elaborate on whether there was anything in particular about the film or its story line that raised concerns.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now