Pretty much every serious conversation about the current anxiety surrounding Todd Phillips’ Joker has to, at some point or another, reckon with happened the night its spiritual predecessor, The Dark Knight, arrived in theaters. An armed gunman—who, coincidentally or not, seemed to embody the movie’s villain and his ethos of random, violent chaos—walked into a theater in Colorado and murdered 12 people, injuring dozens more. Despite what tricks of memory might sometimes suggest, James Holmes was not dressed like Heath Ledger’s Joker when he performed these actions. (He was actually wearing a makeshift tactical assault kit, although at least some people in attendance that night thought he was in some kind of costume.) But it’s not hard to see the lingering effects of Holmes’ actions in the increased scrutiny and security surrounding the release of the upcoming Joaquin Phoenix feature—including news tonight that independent theater chain Landmark Theatres is banning all costumes at screenings of the film.
The chain normally bans face masks and toy weapons at its showings (itself largely a reaction to the Aurora, Colorado massacre), but allows other costumes; however, Joker screenings will fully ban all costumes, period. “I want customers to be comfortable in their surroundings,” the company’s president told The Hollywood Reporter today. Per the same article, other theater chains around the U.S. have instituted less serious precautions; neither AMC or Regal have banned costumes, but were careful to reiterate their standing policies about face-obscuring items.
Joker opens nationwide on October 4.