Seven years after a mass shooter dressed as the Joker killed a dozen people at a Colorado movie theater during a premiere screening of The Dark Knight, the release of the dark Warner Bros. origin story Joker had theaters around the country bracing for the worst.
Here in the Bay Area, all AMC theaters issued a ban on wearing masks to Joker screenings, though costumes are allowed according to KRON 4. And Landmark Theatres has banned all costumes from screenings altogether, with a pair of East Bay Landmark cinemas choosing not to screen the film at all, as a precaution.
AMC issued a national statement after reports they may be banning costumes, saying, "Because we’re also getting calls about our costume policy, I want to make sure it’s clear that this is AMC’s standard costume policy, which has been in place for several years and applies to all movies at all times: Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face."
KPIX reports there was a quiet police presence outside the Presidio Theatre where the film was showing, though as one moviegoer on his way out of a screening quipped, the only danger is "falling asleep."
The FBI has reportedly been actively monitoring social media for credible threats connected to Joker screenings. And as the Hollywood Reporter reports, families of victims of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting issued an open letter to Warner Bros. calling on them to donate movie revenues to non-profits that combat gun violence.
Police around the country have been monitoring movie theaters playing the film, as Reuters reports, with police in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles all confirming that they have added patrols to movie theaters. There was also a report that the NYPD was sending plainclothes cops into screenings.
Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix in what's been hailed as a stellar performance in an origin story that uncomfortably depicts a character with some disturbingly similar psychological markers to recent mass shooters. The New York Times' A.O. Scott did not have a rave review, saying the film, "an empty, foggy exercise in second-hand style and second-rate philosophizing." Meanwhile, the SF Chronicle's Mick LaSalle, whose opinion should never be trusted, calls it "a very good movie." And the Times separately delves into other risky, violent films that Warner Bros. has made in the past, like Natural Born Killers, and A Clockwork Orange.
In any event, it looks like Warner Bros. is laughing all the way to the bank on this one, with the movie scoring a $155 million global opening.