As ‘Joker’ Approaches, Regal Cinemas Says No Film Is ‘a Cause or a Signal for Violence’

Theaters say safety will be “top priority” following threats of violence

Joker Joaquin Phoenix
Warner Bros.

Following a warning of a potential threat of violence at an upcoming show of Warner Bros.’ “Joker,” movie theater chain Regal Cinemas has said in a statement that no movie is a “cause or signal for violence” but safety will continue to stay the company’s “foremost concern.”

“At Regal, we do not believe the content or the existence of any movie is a cause or a signal for violence,” a spokesperson for Regal told TheWrap. “Nevertheless, although we do not comment on security protocols implemented by our theatres at any time, patron and employee safety is our foremost concern. In collaboration with NATO, 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.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army Base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, warned commanders of a potential threat of violence at an upcoming showing of Warner Bros.’ “Joker,” citing an intelligence bulletin about “a credible potential mass shooting to occur at an unknown movie theater.”

Similarly, U.S. military personnel nationwide received an unrelated memo from U.S. Army leadership on Tuesday, warning soldiers that “Posts on social media have made reference to involuntary celibate (“incel”) extremists replicating the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at screenings of the ‘Joker’ movie at nationwide theaters,” iO9 reported.

Movie chains AMC Theatres and Landmark Theatres issued statements agreeing that safety is a top priority, not specifically for “Joker,” but for every movie. The chains said they would not discuss the specifics of their safety precautions in order to protect employees and guests.

“The safety of our guests and associates is AMC’s top priority,” AMC said. “Working with law enforcement, AMC has a number of safety and security protocols in place at all of its theatres. To help ensure that safety, we do not discuss specifics.”

AMC said guests may wear costumes, but not “masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face.” Additionally, no weapons or “items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable” are permitted at any time.

Landmark will not allow costumes.

“We don’t comment on anything to do with operating procedures, but we are not allowing costumes, face painting or masks by either our employees or guests,” Landmark CEO Ted Mundorff said in a statement obtained by TheWrap.

“Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips, received mostly rave reviews after it screened at the Venice and Toronto Film festivals, but as details of the plot have become widely known, critics have expressed concern that the film paints a sympathetic portrayal of a psychopathic murderer.

Five family members of victims who died in the 2012 Aurora shooting urged Warner Bros. to make a donation to charities that support victims of gun violence. The family members did not call for the film to be pulled from theaters, however.

In response, Warner Bros. said in a statement that “gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic.”

The company also said it “believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”

On Wednesday, Deadline reported that the film will not play at the Cinemark Aurora theater where the 2012 “Dark Knight Rises” shooting took place.

Cinemark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.