The­aters ban masks, cos­tumes at ‘Joker’ screen­ings

The Morning Call - - BUSINESS CYCLE - By Tay­lor Telford

A week be­fore “Joker” hits the big screen, movie the­aters around the coun­try are ban­ning masks and cos­tumes at show­ings amid con­cerns about its vi­o­lent theme and af­ter the fam­i­lies of those killed in a 2012 mass shoot­ing at a Colorado the­ater ex­pressed alarm.

Land­mark The­aters, a Los An­ge­les-based chain with more than 50 venues na­tion­wide, told Reuters that “no masks, painted faces or cos­tumes” will be al­lowed in its the­aters. Ear­lier this week, AMC The­atres is­sued a re­minder to cus­tomers.

“Guests are wel­come to come dressed in cos­tume, but we do not per­mit masks, face paint or any ob­ject that con­ceals the face,” the Kansas-based com­pany said in a state­ment this week. “AMC does not per­mit weapons or items that would make other guests feel un­com­fort­able or de­tract from the moviego­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The film star­ring Joaquin Phoenix has been both her­alded and crit­i­cized for its por­trayal of a fail­ing clown who un­rav­els, be­com­ing a mass mur­derer and a sort of dark folk hero. Some see it as a close ex­am­i­na­tion of the forces that can push a per­son to com­mit such atroc­i­ties; oth­ers say it li­on­izes the mass vi­o­lence that’s be­come in­creas­ingly com­mon in re­cent years.

In 2012, a heav­ily armed man mur­dered 12 peo­ple and wounded 70 dur­ing a screen­ing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., where many au­di­ence mem­bers were in cos­tume. Po­lice said James Holmes had dyed his hair so he would look like the Joker, the Bat­man vil­lain. He was later con­victed on 165 charges and is serv­ing a life sen­tence.

Warner Bros. ex­tended its sym­pa­thy to vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence and said it had re­cently joined the call for gun-re­form leg­is­la­tion. But the stu­dio also as­serted that “Joker” was in no way an “en­dorse­ment of re­al­world vi­o­lence of any kind.”

NIKO TAVERNISE/WARNER BROS.

Joaquin Phoenix plays the ti­tle char­ac­ter in “Joker.”

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