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Bomb threat to Carmike Cinemas chain over 'Expendables 2' prompts police searches nationwide

WLEX

Carmike Cinemas in Lexington, Kentucky, were closed briefly due to a bomb threat Friday, but police gave the all-clear after a search turned up no explosives.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are responding to a bomb threat aimed at Columbus, Ga.-based Carmike Cinemas, which has 236 theaters in 35 states.

The threat was aimed at all the theaters showing "The Expendables 2," Carmike spokesman Terrell Mayton told NBC News. 

The threat was left in a phone message at the Carmike Cinema's corporate office Friday morning by a person identfying himself as a theater vendor, Mayton said.


The theater chain swiftly coordinated with local law-enforcement agencies, he said. None of the theaters was open for the day yet and heightened security measures will remain in place as they show movies, Mayton said.

"We're getting lots of calls and emails of 'all-clear,'" he said.

The Wilmington, N.C., Police Department cleared the scene on Cinema Drive after investigating a bomb threat, NBC station WECT reported. Officers walked through the building with employees, looking for anything suspicious. They did not find anything and reopened a road shut down during the investigation.

“Really the only prudent thing is to do the search. …Nothing was found,” police spokeswoman Lucy Crockett told the Wilmington Star News.

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Bomb-sniffing dogs searched the Carmike theaters in Lexington, Ky., but no explosives were found, NBC station WLEX confirmed.

NBCChicago.com showed aerial video of law enforcement agencies setting up outside a theater in Morris, Ill., southwest of Chicago.

On Thursday, Columbus police arrested an armed man who tried to sneak into a Carmike Cinemas theater pre-screening of “Expendables 2.” Joshua L. Vardeman, 23, faces three misdemeanor charges, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

A federal investigator told NBC News the gunman and the bomb threat appear unrelated.

“Expendables 2,” which opened Friday, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in a sequel about bad-ass geezers with  Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Bruce Willis. In this one, the crew reunites for what they think is an easy paycheck, but when one of the team is murdered on the job, the quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory.

Review: “The Expendables 2” 

This story includes reporting by NBC News' chief justice correspondent Pete Williams and senior writer Jim Gold.

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