Scan through the Yelp reviews at the AMC Kabuki cinema in Japantown and you're bound to find multiple complaints about fire alarms going off that interrupt everyone's moviegoing experience. One even happened on Monday night, clearing out the building during a rain shower with a necessary visit from the SFFD. So why does this keep happening?
According to one theater employee reached by SFist, the culprits for at least the last three fire-alarm incidents were moviegoers vaping near what are apparently very sensitive smoke detectors. "People who vape seem to think that vaping doesn't produce smoke, but it does," says the employee.
The theater is reportedly planning to install signage that reminds people they can't vape — or smoke — indoors. When asked why this isn't happening at more movie theaters around town, the employee just said, "I guess people in our neighborhood just really like to vape!"
Formerly the Sundance Kabuki Cinema, the theater was taken over by the AMC chain in the last two years. And while they still serve alcohol at the second-floor bar, the third-floor bar is lately rarely open, and there's no longer a food menu beyond the basics at the main concession counter. (The "Dine-In" part of the name was dropped in April 2018 when the kitchen closed down.)
Reports of fire alarms going off and triggering evacuations — and sometimes refund vouchers — date back to at least late 2017, which is around when AMC took over. (The theater had previously been an AMC theater in the early aughts, until Sundance took over and renovated in 2006 for a decade, before itself getting acquired by Carmike Cinemas, which was then acquired by AMC.)
Please report back if you get evacuated from a showing at the AMC Kabuki 8 and there are no vapers in sight.