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Studio Movie Grill increases security in light of new 'Joker' movie set to be released

Posted at 6:02 PM, Sep 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 21:02:10-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The latest film 'Joker' is causing concern over its dark and violent themes, now the U.S. Military is warning service members and the public about the potential for mass shootings at screenings of the new film set to release a week from today.

ABC news confirmed that Army officials at Fort Sill , Oklahoma are warning soldiers about possible mass shootings unfolding at theaters showing the film, following potential social media threats discovered by Texas law enforcement officials and the FBI.

This coming after some have criticized the film for glorifying the Joker as the prince of crime.

Studio Movie Grill officials, who would not go on camera told 23ABC that in light of the new Joker movie, that also has a historical connection to the mass shooting that took place in Aurora Colorado in 2012, they will not be allowing any face paint, or costumes inside the theater.

Officials said they will also have heightened security and they will be checking bags at the door.

The Warner Brothers movie the Joker is just days away from entering Kern County theaters but Kern Behavioral Health Director Bill Watkins said violent movies don't lead to more violent crimes.

"Historically what we have learned is that movies don't lead and cause violence per say, that being said, this is a dark themed movie and it does remind people of a very real event that occurred," Kern Behavioral Health Director Bill Watkins.

Actor Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the Joker, also added in his two sense to the conversation surrounding the movie's tie to mental health

"I think it's really good when movies make us uncomfortable or challenge us or make us think differently and I think that's important, to be challenged in that way. So to me, I think it's good that people are having a strong reaction to the movie," Phoenix said.

In the wake of the sensitivity many families of victims of the Aurora Colorado theater shooting that unfolded in 2012, Warner Brothers issued a statement.

The statement said in part that gun violence is a critical issue in our society, that they have donated to victims of violence, including Aurora, but story telling is meant to provoke difficult conversations.

Watkins said instead of looking at how the movie can cause violence, the focus in the media should be more on the prevention side and less on the glorification side with certain characters.

"One of the things that's kind of disturbing about the movie is that they have actually taken several profiles of people who have been prone to mass shootings and put it into a character. Does that cause mass shootings no, but it does validate this as an action and then it puts it up on the screen for people," Watkins said.

Watkins said vulnerable groups who may be on the verge of committing acts of violence are the ones that may be impacted by films like this.

Local law enforcement officials also said they will assist all theaters in Kern County in safe proofing their facilities if they request assistance.

23ABC also reached out to our local and state FBI headquarter who said they are aware of the social media post online that sparked this concern and they are working with law enforcement and private sector partners to address the issue.

Kern County Sheriff's Office and the Bakersfield Police Department also told 23ABC they will ensure everyone is safe in the event of an emergency.