Local theaters ramping up safety measures ahead of Joker movie screening

NOW: Local theaters ramping up safety measures ahead of Joker movie screening

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Movie theaters are increasing security ahead of a blockbuster film premiere. The FBI is looking into alarming online posts aimed at "Joker." The film hits local theaters on Thursday. The social media threats were allegedly tied to extremists called "incels.” Some members have turned to extreme violence.

CBS news has learned authorities are concerned about the movie possibly inspiring someone to commit a mass shooting.  These concerns are largely due to a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. The shooter opened fire during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises,” which is part of The Batman Series. A dozen people were killed, and 70 people were hurt.

The Avalon Theater is one of a number of theaters in the Milwaukee area to ramp up security. They say it was recommended by a national theater association ahead of the Joker movie release.

The movie Joker centers on a sympathetic character that is struggling emotionally, and finds answers in violence. Authorities are worried someone could view the movie through a personal lens.

Some moviegoers say they're worried, while others remain optimistic.

"I'm kind of worried about it because it seems like a very good movie and people are trying to ruin the movie,” said Daniel Marques who plans on seeing Joker.  

"We have no concerns at all about seeing the movie," said Nicole Armendariz, who already has tickets for Thursday evening.

The Neighborhood Theater Group, who owns the Avalon Theater in Milwaukee and the Rosebud Theater in Wauwatosa, released new bag policies. Bags larger than 14 inches by 14 inches are not allowed.

"We've always reserved the right to search the bags like that before, but we're just making it more upfront," said Mark Strube, Program and Marketing for Neighborhood Theater Group.

The Oriental Theatre on Milwaukee’s east side is also discouraging people from bringing large bags and using masks during the screening.

"It's very obvious that all the big players in the game are adding similar policies," adds Strube.

Marcus Theatres have also implemented bag policies.

Moviegoers say they respect the measures local theaters have taken.

"If there are precautions that should be taken about going to the movies on that particular day, I don't mind them at all,” said Marques.  

"While I don't think anything is going to happen, I feel like the culture that we live in right now and some of the issues we've been having, I can understand why the theaters would want to take those precautions," adds Armendariz.

CBS 58 asked the Avalon Theater if other safety measures in place involving authorities were planned ahead of Thursday’s screening.

"There are some other measures that we are taking, but just due to security concerns we'd rather not put that out there," said Strube.

Strube says there's strong ticket pre-sales for both the Avalon and the Rosebud theaters. Even with the FBI investigating the social media threats, he expects it to be a strong weekend.

Share this article: