Photo by stevenharris.
On Monday afternoon, a rumour started circulating on Twitter, to the effect that someone—nobody was saying who—had left the Scotiabank Theatre with bedbug bites. For the multi-screen theatre, the timing couldn’t be worse: the Scotiabank is one of the venues for the Toronto International Film Festival, which begins next Thursday.
The rumour originated with James Rocchi, a film writer for MSN Movies, who covers the Toronto International Film Festival. His initial tweet was scant on details (“Bad, Bad news from Toronto re: #TIFF10: Torontonian Friend got, yes, bedbugs at the Scotiabank — aka where all press screenings are. …”), but he elaborated for us in an email:
After a morning including, amusingly, a phone interview with [TIFF co-director] Cameron Bailey, a dear Toronto friend of mine told me at about noon Pacific they had gotten bedbug bites at the Scotiabank Theatre—where the majority of TIFF press screenings are scheduled to take place. These bites were on their back, bottom, and legs—in other words, all points-of-contact with a theater seat—after seeing Scott Pilgrim in theater 14. I shared this information—as I trust this person implicitly—via Twitter, sponsoring a rippling wave of nauseated replies.
The first attempt to allay the fears of moviegoers came within an hour of Rocchi’s initial bedbug tweet, when Bailey took it upon himself to step out in front of the issue using his Twitter. He wrote: “Before bedbugs becomes today’s meme: we’re on it, we’re talking to Cineplex & are planning for an itch-free #TIFF10.”
Rocchi stressed that he was impressed by the speed of TIFF’s response to the report. “As I’ve no desire to spend ten days in the Scotiabank in an Andromeda Strain–style suit, I’m heartened to know that TIFF is aware and on the case,” he wrote.
Attempts to reach Rocchi’s bedbug-bitten friend directly have not been successful.
Cineplex Entertainment, who own the Scotiabank Theatre, have acknowledged Rocchi’s anonymous friend’s complaint; it reached them yesterday evening. But they’re saying little, so far, about the extent of the problem—nor can they confirm yet that there is one.
“Cineplex Entertainment is fully investigating a report received late today from a guest who believes they were bitten by bed bugs at our Scotiabank Theatre Toronto,” wrote Pat Marshall, Vice President of Communications for Cineplex. “The safety and security of our guests and staff are our number one concern and we will investigate this situation immediately and take any steps necessary to address it.” [ : After completing their “thorough investigation overnight,” Cineplex Entertainment has issued a statement saying that there are no bedbugs at the Scotiabank Theatre.]
When we know more, we’ll update this story accordingly.