Theaters and Shows

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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Comprehensive terms for places where all types of entertainment events can be viewed, including films, plays, and exhibitions.

Since these types of entertainment affect the public interest, they may properly be subjected to government regulation. The power to regulate must, however, be exercised reasonably since it restrains the free speech rights of performers, filmmakers, and distributors. A city is not permitted to prohibit all theaters or shows, for example, but it can properly set forth regulations governing fire safety and crowd control. In addition, minors, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, can be forbidden to attend shows or performances after dark or deemed "adult entertainment." Public séances for money-making purposes are sometimes unlawful because they can be used to cheat certain individuals. Temporary shows likely to attract large crowds over a short period of time, such as outdoor rock music concerts, must be approved in advance by authorities who must supervise plans to protect the health and safety of both the people attending the show and those who reside in the area. Local regulations may require that theater buildings be constructed with flameproof materials for floors, walls, seats, curtains, and carpeting; that, in general, a certain amount of light be on even during performances; and that exits large enough to handle crowds be placed at different sides of the building and clearly marked. Theaters are ordinarily required to have ushers on duty to maintain order by supervising the movement of crowds.

Ticket Sales

To protect the public, a number of communities have enacted statutes regulating the resale of tickets for any kind of theater or show in order to discourage speculation, which weakens the market for the tickets. Such measures also prevent scalping (the process whereby large numbers of tickets purchased at the normal price in order to create a shortage are then sold at extremely inflated prices). A state or local government

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may make it a criminal offense to sell a ticket for more than the price stamped on it.

Frequently the statutory scheme that proscribes resale of tickets for more than the printed price includes special provisions for ticket brokers, who are in the business of selling tickets for a number of theaters to members of the public. Brokers are strictly regulated to protect the public from FRAUD, EXTORTION, and...

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