NYPD Deploys Undercover Police to “Joker” Movie Screenings

Jenna Miller, Editor in Chief

Ah, movies. An escape from the outside world, a look into a different take on our world behind a large screen, a mirror to a realistic spin on fiction. How harmful could a movie be?

In the case of Joker, very.

The R-rated film itself offers a look at the origin story of the famous villain from the Batman series, and deals with complex and controversial issues such as gun violence. Coincidentally, there was a mass shooting in Colorado where the shooter dressed up as The Joker and fired during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, which ended up with the character of the Joker being associated with guns and shootings. Many expressed concern over the release of the film and its content, especially the families and neighbors of the victims of the aforementioned shooting.

 “They developed this character, and it was so similar to our killer’s character, that was disturbing for me,” said Sandy Phillips in an interview with Colorado Public Radio. Theatres in Colorado even opted to not show the movie.

This shooting and controversy years later raised concern nationwide about the movie—especially in major cities, which took additional measures to ensure that no violence would break out during the film. New York City’s procedures were especially significant as they deployed undercover cops to theatres to monitor the screenings of the movie. 

And the police presence worked as there were no problems with the film’s opening weekend, October 5-6. In fact Joker set a record for the highest grossing October weekend in film history at $93.5 million.

In a notice given out by the U.S. Army, it was said that “posts on social media have made reference to involuntary celibate (‘incel’) extremists replicating ‘the shooting’ at screenings of the Joker movie at nationwide theaters,” according to The Hill. “Disturbing” and “very specific chatter” was found on the Deep Web, as per the Army’s notice, involving this potential threat. “ “Commanders need to be aware of this threat for soldier and family safety and to increase situational awareness should they choose to attend the release of this movie at a local theater.”

In an interview with The Hill, an NYPD spokesperson claimed, “There are no specific or credible threats at this time and these events will continue to be closely monitored. Any additional personnel will be deployed as needed. Members of the public are encouraged to help police in the shared responsibility of public safety. If you see something, say something by calling 911.” 

Theatres are both being visibly patrolled as well as monitored meticulously by undercover cops in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, according to Deadline.