The new film has been criticised for potentially inciting violence and bringing back memories of a mass shooting in a Colorado movie theatre in 2012
Police in several major cities in the US said they will continue to closely monitor theatres playing the new film Joker, which was released on Friday in US theatres, according to American local media.
Based on Batman’s comic book nemesis, the movie tells the story of the villain. Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the Joker, has been praised for what critics have called a brilliant but terrifying performance of a mentally unhinged outcast who finds fame through acts of violence.
The move by law enforcement comes several years after the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises was used as the backdrop of a mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012 that killed 12 people and wounded 70 more.
Families of some of the victims have expressed concern about the new film. Due to the sensitive nature of the matter, it will not be shown in the Aurora theatre.
Police in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago said that although they were not aware of any specific threats, they would deploy additional officers to locations playing the film.
Officers wearing helmets and armed with assault rifles were present outside a screening of the film at the New York Film Festival on Wednesday night, where audiences had their bags searched and K-9 police units on duty, Reuters reported.
Hollywood website, Deadline, reported that New York City policemen in plainclothes would also be stationed inside some movie theatres, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.
Meanwhile, movie theatres have also taken certain precautions. Costumes and face masks have been banned for moviegoers at two of the largest US theatre chains, AMC and Landmark.
Despite the cloud that hangs over the film and discussions about whether or not it promotes violence, Joker has scored an October box office record. The film earned $13.3m in its Thursday night opening screenings.
The film’s studio, Warner Bros., has defended the film, saying it was not an endorsement of real-world violence.
“It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers, or the studio to hold this character up as a hero,” Warner Bros. said in a statement.
Filmmaker Todd Phillips has directed criticism at those who have judged the film without seeing it first. “I didn’t imagine the level of discourse that it’s reached in the world, honestly,” he said at the New York festival.
“I think it’s okay that it sparks conversations and there are debates around it. The film is a statement and it’s great to talk about it, but it’s much more helpful if you’ve seen it,” he added.