U.S. Cinemas Ban Masks, Costumes, And Toy Weapons From ‘Joker’ Screenings Over Gun Violence Concerns

When it comes to the upcoming opening of “The Joker”, U.S. theatres are insisting that patrons save the cosplay for Comic-Con.

The Guardian reports that U.S. theatre chains are banning costumes, masks, and toy weapons at screenings of the new DC Comics-derived movie, which tells the origin story of Batman’s most iconic foe (Joaquin Phoenix), due to the potential for violence.

“We want all our guests to enjoy ‘The Joker’ for the cinematic achievement that it is,” reads a message on the website of Landmark Theatres, “but no masks, painted faces or costumes will be permitted into our theatres.”

AMC Theatres, America’s largest cinema chain with more than 600 theatres throughout the country, has issued a statement issuing a similar ban.

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“The safety of our guests and associates is AMC’s top priority,” AMC said in a statement to Deadline. “Working with law enforcement, AMC has a number of safety and security protocols in place at all of its theatres… Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face. AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience.”

Concerns over gun violence at “Joker” screenings were raised by families of the victims of a 2012 mass shooting in a theatre during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”, when armed gunman James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.

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The victims’ families wrote a letter to the film’s studio, Warner Bros., urging it to take measures to ensure theatregoers’ safety.

“We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe,” reads the letter, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

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Meanwhile, a bulletin issued by U.S. military officials warns that the FBI has gathered intelligence of a “credible potential mass shooting” connected to the film after seeing “disturbing and very specific” discussions on the dark web.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of ‘Joker’,” said the LAPD in a statement to Deadline. “While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the Department will maintain high visibility around movie theatres when it opens. We encourage everyone to go out and enjoy all of the weekend leisure activities this city has to offer. However, Angelenos should remain vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings. As always, if you see something, say something.”

Canadian theatre chain Cineplex, which will screen “Joker” in its cinemas, has no similar warnings on its website; no word on whether a ban on masks and costumes will extend to Canadian theatres.

“Joker” opens on Friday, Oct. 4.

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