Australian Cinema Calls In Police After 'Joker' Movie Threat
Police have sought to reassure the community after a message board post appeared to threaten a Sydney cinema, on the day the new 'Joker' film was released.
A screenshot of the alleged post -- said to have first been posted on message board 4chan, then later deleted -- came to light on Reddit on Wednesday.
The person posted the message under an anonymous account, with a display picture showing Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of the Joker character. The message read: "some of you guys are alright. Don't go to ritz cinemas sydney tomorrow."
The message references a post published on 4chan just hours before a mass school shooting in Umpqua, in the U.S. state of Oregon, in 2015. The "some of you guys" message, warning of an incident to occur at a school, was never explicitly connected to the shooter -- who was shot dead during the attack -- but has become a kind of internet meme on message boards.
10 daily understands the post shared on 4chan this week may have been posted from overseas, not Australia, but NSW Police are taking precautions nonetheless.
"Police are aware of online posts in relation to a business and in response are maintaining a presence in the surrounding areas through ongoing patrols," a NSW Police spokesperson told 10 daily.
Benji Tamir, operations manager at the Ritz cinema in Randwick, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, said the theatre was running as usual.
"Police have been notified, they're advising us to run the business as normal, and our usual business will continue," he told 10 daily.
"They've got a presence as a precaution... we have also got our own security as well. It is business as usual and we are excited to continue showing the film."
He said the cinema had already hosted several showings of the 'Joker' film, which opened to general release this week, which he said were "completely calm" with "plenty of people coming through the doors and enjoying the Ritz."
It comes after the film garnered controversy around the world, and fears it may incite violence. The film -- an origin story for the classic Batman villain -- charts the genesis of the character and how he became the Joker after bullying, abuse and social isolation.
Some theatres in the United States have banned moviegoers from wearing face paint, costumes and large bags while viewing the film, while police officers in some states have been deployed to patrol and monitor theatres.
Tamir said the Ritz in Sydney was among cinemas taking "pretty similar" measures, confirming masks and face paint would not be allowed in the theatre. 10 daily has also contacted large Australian cinema chains to ask whether they would enforce such rules.
The American FBI and army have also issued warnings in the wake of the film, regarding other alleged social media posts from those identifying as 'incels' -- involuntary celibates.
Gizmodo reported that Army officials emailed an alert to service members, warning of possible violence in the cinemas. The email claimed that incels "idolise the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against bullies."
In 2012, another mass shooting was carried out at a Colorado theatre at a showing of 'The Dark Knight Rises', another Batman film.
Michael Uslan, executive producer of the 'Joker' film, defended the movie over violence fears.
“Look at what I consider some of the most important films: What have they done? They’ve held up a mirror to our society, and there are times when people don’t want to see that reflection, they want to run from it,” Uslan told the Asbury Park Press.
“They don’t want to acknowledge it because sometimes the reflection shows warts and all, whether it’s biases and prejudices or what’s happened to our society, reflecting the times.”
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org