Theaters Working With Law Enforcement, Homeland Security in Wake of Massacre

After killings in Aurora, Colo., AMC bans costumes and fake weapons, but chains going forward with regularly scheduled shows of "The Dark Knight Rises"

In the wake of a massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and 71 people shot at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," movie theaters across the country sought to reassure patrons that they were taking extra precautions to ensure their safety.

So far it appears that no theater chains are moving to cancel showings, although AMC is banning face-covering masks or take fake weapons inside their buildings.

In major cities like New York and Los Angeles, government officials also said they were increasing police presence at theaters to prevent copycat crimes.

The Department of Homeland Security is consulting with theater owners about ways to improve security, a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) said its members were working closely with local law enforcement officials and offered a statement of condolence to the victims of the mass-shooting.

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“On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families," NATO said.  "We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel."

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Friday's massacre came during a late-night screening of Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight Rises." Shortly after a midnight showing of Christopher Nolan's film began playing, the alleged shooter, 24-year-old graduate student James Holmes, opened fire on a packed auditorium of moviegoers. He was dressed in body armor and wore a gas mask, police say.

For now, it does not seem that many theater chains will cancel any previously scheduled showings of the Batman film.

AMC said it would go forward with screenings of "The Dark Knight Rises" but said it would not allow guests to wear masks or take fake weapons inside their buildings. The theater chain said it was increasing its security procedures, but could not reveal what measures it was taking to that effect. AMC said it would refund or exchange tickets for guests that no longer wanted to attend shows.

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"AMC Theatres is deeply saddened by the Aurora tragedy," the company said in a statement. "Movie going is part of our social fabric and this senseless act shakes us to our core."

In a Facebook post, Regal Cinemas, the country's largest theater chain, said it was monitoring the situation and would adjust its security procedures accordingly.

"We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred at a Denver area theatre and are concerned for the victims and their families," the company's statement reads. "The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority."

Cinemark, which owns the theater where the shootings took place, said it was working with law enforcement officials.

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"Cinemark is deeply saddened about this tragic incident," the company said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. We are grateful for the quick and professional reaction of all local law enforcement and emergency responders."