Georgia Malls Step Up Security for "ATL"

ImageT.I.'s ATL is scheduled to open this Friday (March 31) and a security company for several Georgia area malls is making preparations in case audiences get out of hand.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published a memo that was reportedly sent by Valor Security Service Perimeter Mall security director W. Mark Crowell via e-mail to Perimeter Mall, Discover Mills Mall, Cumberland Mall, North Point Mall, Oglethorpe Mall, Southlake Mall and Augusta Mall.

Valor provides security for all seven malls. In the email Crowell warns, "On March 31, the movie 'ATL' will be released in theaters. A theater manager at one of our properties has alerted the mall team that this movie could cause potential behavior problems. The movie trailer indicates that themes in the movie include moral choices and narcotics trafficking... Please appropriately prepare your security staffs for the release of this movie."

ATL, which was directed by Chris Robinson, is loosely based on the experiences of producer Dallas Austin and TLC's T-Boz, who both served as producers for the film. The film also stars Outkast's Big Boi.

While ATL earned a PG-13 rating for drug content, language, sexual material and some violence, Warner Bros. released a statement yesterday defending the film.

"ATL celebrates the vibrant culture of the South, particularly the music and energy that emanates from Atlanta. The story follows a group of teenagers as they overcome challenges and discover the importance of friendship, community and personal integrity."

David Keating, a spokesman for General Growth Properties Inc., the company that owns Cumberland, North Point, Southlake, Oglethorpe, Augusta and Perimeter malls said the memo was simply a precaution.

"It certainly wasn't sent out to discredit the film or anyone associated with it," Keating told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It certainly wasn't meant to target anyone."

General Growth also issued a prepared release stating: "We regret that the e-mail could be read to imply something that we do not condone, and apologize for any unintended offense it may have caused."

Keating also told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the company had "an incident" approximately five years ago related to another film release, but he didn't elaborate further.

Greg Alexander, the owner of Cascade Family Skating, where many of the scenes for ATL were shot also spoke up on behalf of the film.

"I'm in a business where you can't survive if you acquire a bad name," Alexander told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We have the children of some of our original customers coming in now to skate with their families. I don't care how much money someone threw at me, if a film affected my business in a negative way, it would not be shot here. Just going by the trailer, maybe someone who is uninformed about certain things might get the wrong idea. They use a lot of the music that the kids like and they show some gold teeth. Maybe someone saw all that, misunderstood and got a little nervous."

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