Brow Beat

Cineplex Temporarily Closes Over “Credible” Threat to Joker Screenings

Looking into a mirror with his face painted like a clown, Joaquin Phoenix uses his fingers to manipulate his mouth into a smile.
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker.
Warner Bros. Pictures

A movie theater in Huntington Beach was temporarily shut down on Thursday over a threat linked to the opening of Todd Phillips’ Joker. The Century Huntington Beach and XD cineplex received an unspecified threat that police called “credible enough to provide a uniformed presence at the theater” and ultimately caused the theater to cancel its final two showings of Joker on Thursday in response. It has since reopened and will have a police presence throughout the weekend.

Police departments around the country have been preparing for the possibility of violence at Joker over fears that its sympathetic portrayal of a violent killer could provoke copycats. Also contributing to the atmosphere is the fact that in 2012, a gunman who reportedly claimed to be “The Joker” killed 12 people and injured dozens more in a theater in Aurora, Colorado during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, another Warner Bros. movie. The NYPD will reportedly have undercover officers at screenings in addition to visible patrols, while the LAPD promises “high visibility” despite no overt threats against audience.

Five family members of the Aurora shooting victims sent a letter to Warner Bros. ahead of the movie’s release to share concerns about Joker’s release. The signers did not ask the studio not to release the film or call for a boycott, instead asking that Warner Bros. “end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform.” Joker is not showing in the Aurora theater where the shooting took place.