Don't let the bedbugs bite - at the cinema

Don't let the bedbugs bite - at the cinema
Mr Srirutiran Mathivanan, 29, said that he saw many bedbugs when he peeled back the seat cushion at Rex Cinema, which has admitted to having a problem with the bugs.

Moviegoers claim they have been leaving the Rex Cinema with more than just shivers down their spine - after finding themselves covered in bedbugs.

The Bollywood theatre in Mackenzie Road has admitted to The Straits Times that it has a problem with the bugs - and pest controllers say it may not be the only cinema here to have them.

A group who watched a film at Rex on May 31 told of how they began feeling uncomfortable during the two-hour screening.

Hairstylist Srirutiran Mathivanan, 29, said that his friend's wife began complaining she was "itchy".

When Mr Mathivanan turned on his mobile phone's flashlight, he noticed her hand was swollen - but that was not all.

"I saw many bedbugs at her feet and when I peeled the seat cushion back to look, even more came out," said Mr Mathivanan, who added that he had previously been bitten at the cinema.

His friend Narasinga Rao Vandasan, 26, felt that the incident was "no small matter".

"I sometimes see children going to the cinema. What if they get bitten? Cinemagoers don't want to spread this to their friends and family."

Mr Vandasan said the cinema's management had previously told him that it would clean up the place, but the situation has not improved.

Rex Cinema acknowledged the problem and told The Straits Times that it plans to have new seats installed by the end of next month.

Spokesman Noor Jahan said: "We get about two complaints about bedbugs a week. However, we have procedures in place to deal with them. Pest control conducts regular (cleaning) every week, and we go in and clean the place after every show.

"We also offer to change the seats of patrons who complain about the bedbugs mid-show, or offer compensation for those who complain after the show. If (Mr Mathivanan) had come to us, we would have offered him the same treatment."

Rex, which opened in 1946, claimed that the problem is common at all cinemas in Singapore, "including Golden Village, Shaw and Cathay".

Pest control experts agreed that the problem is widespread.

Carl Baptista, 39, who has been in the pest control industry for over 15 years, said: "Bedbugs are a common problem in cinemas. People come in all the time, there's a dark environment, many crevices and warm blood. If you're in a cinema, you're bedbug food."

Cathay Cineplexes declined to comment. Other cinemas did not respond to queries by press time.

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