“Joker” Premiere Presents Security Concerns For Theater Chains, Local Police
Moviegoers and the families of victims of the Aurora theater shooting worry that someone could stage a copycat attack during opening weekend.
- By Haley Samsel
- Oct 03, 2019
Ahead of the premiere of “Joker” on Friday, movie theater chains across the country are considering increased security measures due to spreading concerns over potential violence at screenings.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which is based in Texas and operates 40 locations, is adding security personnel in theaters showing the film during opening weekend, according to Entertainment Weekly.
In a statement, the company acknowledged “guest inquiries” about what Alamo Drafthouses would do to ensure staff and customer safety.
“We engage with local law enforcement on an ongoing basis about security at our theaters, and while we’re unaware of any specific threat or concern, we will have additional security personnel present at each location for opening weekend for the comfort of our staff and guests,” the chain said.
Some of the security concerns stem from the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado theater in 2012 during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Families of victims have voiced their concerns to Warner Bros. about how the violence in the new “Joker” film may encourage people on the verge of committing mass shootings to do so.
While it was rumored that the Aurora shooter had referred to himself as the Joker and had dressed as the villain before killing 12 people, Colorado officials have repeatedly said this narrative is false. That perception has provoked some theaters to ban cosplaying, or dressing, as characters in the film.
"We want all our guests to enjoy the 'Joker' for the cinematic achievement that it is. But no masks, painted faces or costumes will be permitted into our theatres," Landmark Theatres posted in a statement included at the bottom of the page for advance ticket purchases.
While cosplaying as characters from the film will be allowed at Alamo Drafthouse locations, guests in costume are subject to search at the discretion of staff and could be asked to leave for any reason, the chain said.
Regal Cinemas, which owns more than 500 theaters across the country, did not say if it would increase security for the films. But the chain did say that it does “not believe the content or existence of any movie is a cause or a signal for violence.”
“In collaboration with [the National Association of Theatre Owners], we are in regular contact year-round with law enforcement so we have information to help make whatever security assessments they deem appropriate at all times,” Regal said in a statement.
In Los Angeles, the police department is asking moviegoers to stay vigilant of their surroundings during screenings of the film.
"While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the Department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when it opens," the LAPD said in a statement published by CNN. "We encourage everyone to go out and enjoy all of the weekend leisure activities the City has to offer.”