For the most part, movie theaters tend to be safe places for average audiences to go, watch a film, and escape their day to day lives. Having said that, every now and then we learn of a bizarre movie theater story that absolutely baffles us. Such is the case of a story reported out of England, in which a man recently died after finding himself trapped by one of the multiplex’s reclining seats. It’s a genuinely bizarre story, and one with a heartbreaking ending.
The incident occurred earlier this month at the Vue International movie theater in Birmingham England. Reports indicate that a 24-year-old man named Ateef Rafiq reached under his reclining movie theater seat at the multiplex when it became stuck. It happened towards the end of the movie that he was watching with his wife when he bent down to retrieve his dropped phone that had slipped below the “Gold Class” seat. His head became stuck by the electric footrest on the chair, and he reportedly suffered from fatal cardiac arrest while stuck. He was only able to be removed from the seat once the people around him actually broke the reclining chair to free his head.
This “freak accident” has become a head scratcher for authorities keen on getting to the bottom of it. According to The Guardian, a formal investigation has begun in order to figure out exactly what happened and what went wrong. The moviegoer was taken to the hospital on Friday, March 9 and died a few days later on Friday, March 16.
Reclining movie theater seats such as these have become incredibly common in multiplexes all over the world as theater chains have looked for new ways to drive attendance. Although movies like and have generated some historic money for movie studios, overall theater attendance has dropped in the last few years. Changes to seats have become some of the most common and reliable changes made to the old-fashioned movie-watching model, with additional elements like reserved seating and alcohol service also factoring into the changes taking place.
Of course, even in the face of this tragedy, we should note that this shouldn’t discourage you from going to see a movie at your local theater — regardless of whether or not it has reclining seats. Though this is undoubtedly a sad story, it also seems like a rare accident that should not be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when they sit down to watch a film, although it might be a good idea to secure your phone before you sit down. Our thoughts go out to the family affected by the incident, and CinemaBlend will be sure to keep you updated if any more incidents of this ilk do occur, although our fingers are crossed that they will not.