European Theater Chains Ban Masks, Toy Weapons at 'Joker' Screenings

Joker Still 1 - JOAQUIN PHOENIX - Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publicity- EMBED 2019
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Joaquin Phoenix stars in Joker, which is marketed as an awards-worthy movie.

The Cinesa chain in Spain put out an announcement on its website, and a similar notice was enforced via Facebook on Thursday by Cinesa sister company in Italy, UCI, without mentioning the film by name.

Theater chains in Spain and Italy have banned masks and toy guns from Joker screenings, eliciting a range of responses from spectators on social media.

The Cinesa chain in Spain put out an announcement on its website, via the ticket sales page for the film, which opened Friday across the region. A similar announcement was made Thursday via Facebook by Cinesa sister company in Italy, UCI, also a part of the Odeon Cinemas group, without mentioning the film by name.

The statement asked that viewers not bring masks, toy guns or other weapon simulators or face covers into theaters "for security reasons" and added that the items could be stored with theater personnel during screenings.

"This measure seeks to guarantee the safety of all visitors to our cinemas," the statement added.

It was not immediately clear if other cinemas in the Odeon group in Germany, the U.K., Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltic states were taking similar measures.

The precautionary measures parallel Landmark Theatres' ban on costumes during Joker's theatrical run in the U.S., in addition to its usual ban on face masks and toy weapons.

As of Friday evening, Cinesa confirmed to local press that no incidents had occurred in its theaters in Spain and the measures were merely precautionary.

Responses to the measures in Spain and Italy on social media over the weekend have ranged from those suggesting it was smart to play it safe and that none of the banned materials are necessary for enjoying the movie to others who called it an "exaggeration."

"I agree! Good! Safety is first above all," social media user Ilaria Zaccheo commented on UCI Cinemas Italia's Facebook post about the implementations.

"We talk a lot about the USA, but #Joker phobia has also arrived in Italy," Twitter user alessandro wrote Saturday with an attachment of UCI's warning.

"It's not just Yankee cinemas that have completely lost their minds with #Joker it seems that cinesa has also caught the absurd paranoia fever," echoed user Azure Mist in Spanish.

"With the controversy that's arisen, I think it's totally understandable," Butanero tweeted in Spanish. "Beyond prevention, this is aimed more at making sure other people don't feel uncomfortable."

Joker opened in first place Friday at the Spanish box office through Warner Bros. España, according to ComScore. The film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and also screened at the San Sebastian International Film Festival last month.

The Odeon Cinemas Group, which was acquired by AMC Theatres in 2016, owns more than 360 cinemas in 14 European countries.