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27 Sep, 2019 08:22

Costumes on screen only: US theater chain bans dressing up for ‘Joker’ screenings over fears of another shooting

Costumes on screen only: US theater chain bans dressing up for ‘Joker’ screenings over fears of another shooting

The largest US independent theater chain won’t let people in cosplay watch the critically acclaimed origin story of Batman supervillain ‘Joker.’ Face paint and masks are already banned, but safety fears still remain.

Most US cinemas have banned masks, face paint and toy weapons after the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which happened during a screening of another Batman flick, ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ The gunman wore a Joker costume when he went on a gun and tear-gas rampage, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. Body costumes that don’t hide a person’s identity, however, have been generally allowed in theaters.

However, Landmark Theaters has now announced that it will not allow customers to wear costumes during screenings of the R-rated ‘Joker.’

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“I want customers to be comfortable in their surroundings,” Landmark President-CEO Ted Mundorff told the Hollywood Reporter.

The company is based in Los-Angeles and runs 52 theaters in 27 markets, which makes it the biggest specialized theater chain in the country.

Meanwhile, Kansas-based AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the country, reiterated its ban on “masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face,” but said they will welcome viewers in costume.

The ban on masks and fake guns was mostly due to practical security reasons, but as the release of ‘Joker’ draws closer, there are concerns that it may trigger a copycat gun attack. The LAPD said it would “maintain high visibility” around theaters on premier day, while Regal Cinemas, the second-largest chain in the country, said it was implementing security protocols developed “in collaboration with NATO.”

The US Army went as far as advising service members to watch out for ‘incels,’ disgruntled males who can’t get a date, who supposedly idolize the Joker and may mimic his brutal ways.

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‘Joker,’ which is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix as the title character, is due to be released on October 4 in the US, and is expected to become a box office hit. It follows the descent of a socially isolated and mentally unwell person, as he becomes the mass-murdering, green-haired, pale-faced nemesis of Batman.

It received rave reviews at its Venice International Film Festival premiere this year, taking the top prize. The film is a psychological thriller loosely based on the comic book series. Some commenters voiced concerns that it may cause harm by depicting the protagonist in a sympathetic way and including graphic and realistic violence. However, the creative team behind it said their work is meant for mature audiences who are expected to be able to tell right from wrong.

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