CMPD increasing patrols around theaters ahead of ‘Joker’ movie release

CMPD increasing patrols around theaters ahead of ‘Joker’ movie release
"Joker," the latest film take on DC Comics' most notorious villain, stars Joaquin Phoenix, as well as Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy and Marc Maron. (Source: Warner Bros./YouTube)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are ramping up patrols around local theaters ahead of the release of the highly-anticipated “Joker” movie.

CMPD said Thursday morning that the department understands there is concern about safety at theaters when the movie is screened.

“CMPD, I can guarantee you, is aware of the threats that are unfortunately circulating the U.S. particularly pertaining to potential violence at screenings of the ‘Joker’ movie,” said CMPD Officer Blake Page.

Page said that although no threats have been made specific to the Charlotte area, they are still monitoring any information that comes in.

“At this time I do want the community to know that there have not been any threats directly associated with the Charlotte area,” Page said.

The film, which opens Thursday night, is billed as a character study centering around the mysterious origins of the title character and classic Batman villain.

Charlotte comic book store manager Seth Peagler says the Joker character is constantly evolving.

“That idea of a villainous clown has always had some appeal in literature or films," he said.

It’s expected to be a box office hit.

“Oh my gosh it’s going to be the movie of the year so we’re really excited," movie-goer Patty Reinert told WBTV.

Reinert picked up her tickets for a Friday night showing of Joker at Regal Stonecrest.

Weeks before its release, the movie has already been sparking conversations about realistic depictions of violence on the big screen.

It’s been hailed as the thing that’s going to finally get Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar and also decried for being “dangerous,” ''irresponsible" and even “incel-friendly.”

Victims of the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which took place during the premier of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises,” even wrote to the Warner Bros. CEO asking for support for anti-gun causes ahead of Joker’s release. The studio issued a statement in response saying that the film is not “an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.”

The film’s director, Todd Phillips, has said in interviews that he hopes the movie inspires conversations about guns, violence and the treatment of people with mental illnesses. He has also stressed that the movie is rated R, and is not for kids.

Reinert said her 14-year-old son will see the film with her on Friday and she plans to use it as a teaching moment.

“From the time that they’re 5 years old they see violence and it’s something you have to differentiate between reality and fiction movies," she said.

She’s thankful CMPD will be monitoring local theaters.

“I think that’s really great. It’s good to have police presence," she said.

CMPD urges anyone who hears or sees something concerning surrounding the movie’s release to call 911 immediately.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.