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The NYPD is sending undercover cops to Joker screenings for its opening weekend

The NYPD will be increasing police presence at movie theaters showing director Todd Phillips’ new Joker movie, including undercover officers at screenings.

Deadline reports that the NYPD’s Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison ordered officers to station themselves outside of New York City theaters showing the DC Comics movie starring Joaquin Phoenix. Along with a visible police presence, the NYPD also plans to send a separate contingent of undercover officers.

An NYPD spokesperson told Deadline there are no specific or credible threats at this time, and that the police presence is a precaution when the movie comes out on Friday.

“If something happens inside one of the screenings, we intend to be able to pacify the situation quickly and conclusively,” a police source told Deadline. 

The LAPD also released a statement to Deadline last week, saying they too plan to be visible at movie theaters the weekend of the movie’s release.

Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker

An NYPD spokesperson declined to comment to Digital Trends about the increased police presence.

Phillip’s Joker looks at the backstory of one of the most famous villains in pop culture, attributing the character’s loner lifestyle and need to be liked to his eventual transformation into the Joker audiences have come to know.

The movie has been criticized by people concerned that it could glorify so-called “incels” — men who believe themselves to be involuntarily celibate. Individuals who consider themselves incels have already been responsible for acts of violence, including the 2014 shooting near the University of California campus in Santa Barbara that left six dead and 14 injured.

“Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”

Families of victims from the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting of 2012 also voiced their concerns about the possible threat the movie poses. The family members penned a letter to Warner Bros. on September 24 voicing their concerns about the movie. 

The letter compares the Joker’s backstory to many of those who have gone on to commit mass shootings. In the letter, the families state that the shooting was “perpetrated by a socially isolated individual who felt ‘wronged’ by society.”

The Century Aurora and XD, formerly known as the Aurora Cinemark theater, where the mass shooting took place, will not show the Joker.

In a statement to Reuters, AMC, the largest movie theater chain in the world, said that they would be enforcing a ban on masks for the Joker’s weekend release. 

“Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face,” AMC said in the statement. 

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