Todd Phillips' Joker ran into some trouble at a movie theater in Orange County, California. The Century Huntington Beach and XD theater in the Bella Terra was shut down early Thursday evening by law enforcement after a credible threat against the theater was made. The threat was reported to police, though they would not reveal the type of threat that was given or how it was reported. The theater ended up shutting down just before 5 PM and did not show anything after that time.

The FBI has been monitoring threats in regard to the Joker movie online for the past few months, keeping local law enforcement in the loop. The movie has been at the center of controversy for past few weeks as potential moviegoers fear it paints the Clown Prince of Crime as a sympathetic character. Anxieties have risen out of fear that someone who identifies with Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of Arthur Fleck will go out and commit acts of violence in the real-world.

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Most of the controversy stems from the fact that a 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado ended in bloodshed. A gunman killed 12 people and injured 70 others when he stormed into the theater with a gun and body armor. In addition, it was claimed at the time that the gunman was influenced by the Joker with his dyed hair, which has proven to be false since then. Survivors and families of the victims crafted a letter to Warner Bros. last week expressing concern over the violence in Joker, while asking the studio to help "fund gun violence intervention programs, lobby for gun reform, and end contributions to political candidates who accept contributions from the National Rifle Association."

The FBI and U.S. Army issued internal warnings about possible threats related to the Joker movie within the last few weeks. An internal memo circulated online, which flagged a "credible potential mass shooting" at an unknown movie theater during the movie's Friday release in Oklahoma. Other threats, like the one an Iowa could not identify a "specific attack." Law enforcement are not taking any chances and are beefing up security across North American screenings of the Joker movie.

Todd Phillips does not think Joker will cause violence in movie theaters or influence someone to go out and attempt what was seen on the big screen. "You can't blame movies for a world that is so f*cked up that anything can trigger it," said the director. Joaquin Phoenix agrees and does not think that the movie will be the cause of a great violent outburst. With that being said, there are quite a lot of people who believe the movie will have a bad influence on some. Joker is not in theaters nationwide. The Huntington Beach movie theater threat was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick