How movie theaters, law enforcement are preparing for the release of 'Joker'

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in the movie, "Joker." (Photo: The Everett Collection)

Todd Phillips's “Joker” has been in the headlines this week after family members of victims of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting raised concerns over the film. It has launched a debate over whether “Joker” is "dangerous," causing critics, Warner Bros., Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix to publicly weigh in. As of now, “Joker” will be released in theaters as planned, but law enforcement and theater chains are taking extra precautions to ensure the comfort of patrons.

Here's what you need to know if you plan to head to the cinema next week:

There are no "credible" threats.

While the U.S. Military confirmed a warning was issued to service members about potential copycat shootings, the Army is not aware of "specific, credible" threats. The LAPD released a similar statement:

"The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of the Joker. While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the Department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters 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."

Sources told Deadline "that security always gets beefed up at high-volume theaters during any big box office weekend," cautioning, "it doesn’t take a Joker movie to simply put everyone on high alert."

The National Association of Theatre Owners hasn't been notified of any threats.

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) is unaware of any threats with a source telling The Hollywood Reporter NATO is in close communication with the FBI on a regular basis. Regal Cinemas released a statement saying it is in contact with NATO as well:

"We do not believe the content or the existence of any movie is a cause or a signal for violence. Nevertheless, although we do not comment on security protocols implemented by our theaters 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."

AMC theaters will strictly enforce their costume policy.

The theater chain is reminding customers that masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face will be forbidden.

"The safety of our guests and associates is AMC’s top priority. Working with law enforcement, AMC has a number of safety and security protocols in place at all of its theaters. To help ensure that safety, we do not discuss specifics," AMC said in a statement. "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. AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience."

Landmark is banning all costumes.

The country's largest independent cinema chain also prohibits masks and toy weapons, but the policy be amended to include a ban on all costumes. "I want customers to be comfortable in their surroundings," Landmark president and chief executive officer, Ted Mundorff, tells THR, noting the film’s dark themes.

“Joker” will be released as planned.

Warner Bros. isn't backing down from public pressure as the film will still be released on Oct. 4. However, the studio made a change of plans regarding Saturday's Los Angeles premiere: interview press has been disinvited from the red carpet.

"Our red carpet is comprised of photographers only," a studio spokesperson told Variety. "A lot has been said about Joker, and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film."

It remains to be seen if the PR-headache impacts turnout. “Joker” has been tracking to open around $80 million.

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