Bedbug scare at the Scotiabank Theatre sets off pre-TIFF firestorm

Bedbug scare at the Scotiabank Theatre sets off pre-TIFF firestorm

Mothra jokes inevitable as rumours swirl of a bedbug infestation at the Scotiabank theatre (Image: Steve Harris) 

Forget Oscar buzz. Rumours have it that TIFF theatres are featuring something so creepy, they’ll keep you up at night: bedbugs. TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to calm the swelling panic after a moviegoer at Cineplex’s Richmond Street Scotiabank Theatre, identified as a 38-year-old anonymous female by the Toronto Star, complained of finding bites four hours after seeing a movie.

“Before bedbugs becomes today’s meme: we’re on it, we’re talking to Cineplex and are planning for an itch-free #TIFF10,” he tweeted. He got part of his wish—bedbugs have become today’s meme, not yesterday’s. That right: one tweet and one allegation of bites is all it took to set off a media firestorm, with stories here, here, here, here and even here.

About a half-dozen screenings are held per day at the Scotiabank during the festival. Cineplex swears it is doing everything in its power to guarantee the only thing TIFF VIPs becomes infected with is a love of Canadian hospitality. “We are immediately investigating the issue and will take necessary steps to address this,” Cineplex wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Guest safety is our #1 concern!”

Even still, think twice before you let Natalie Portman give you a hug.

UPDATE: The Star is reporting that a mad midnight inspection of the Scotiabank Theatre turned up no bedbugs at all. “Late yesterday afternoon, Cineplex contracted the services of Abell Pest Control Inc., (Abell), who are experts in their field, to investigate a claim,” Cineplex spokeswoman Pat Marshall told the daily. “After a thorough investigation overnight, which involved a specially trained sniffing dog and a secondary visual inspection, Abell has confirmed that there were no bedbugs located within the Scotiabank theatre.”