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Serious fans dressing up for a major movie release has become a common occurrence at theaters across the country. Whether it's Jedi robes to a Star Wars movie or coming to see Star Trek dressed in a Starfleet uniform, maybe you've done it yourself. However, as the controversy surrounding Joker continues to build ahead of the film's release, at least one significant theater chain is making sure nobody attends Joker in costume at all.
Landmark Theaters is the country's largest independent theater chain. It has had rules against wearing costumes with masks or toy weapons to the theater already. However, now, according to Fox Business, the theater chain has decided to extend its costume ban to include costumes of any sort during the entire theatrical run of Joker.
While comic book movies have become the most popular topic for theaters in recent years, few movies of any sort have been seeing the scrutiny that Joker has been getting before it even opens. Of course, the reasons for that scrutiny are clear. The connection between the Joker and the shooting at the screening of The Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 are well known. While there's no reason to expect anything similar of taking place around the release of Joker, theaters certainly are going to err on the side of caution.
At the same time, it feels like a costume ban that already included masks and face paint, which pretty much every theater already had, would be enough to discourage any potential Jokers from showing up at the theater. Without a mask or paint you can't really make it clear that you're even wearing a Joker costume. You're just a dude in a purple suit. If you own a purple suit, are you not allowed to wear it to the theater while Joker is screening?
It's not clear how the major U.S. theater chains, AMC, Regal, or Cinemark, might also change their policies, either permanently or temporarily, in response to Joker.
Joker is an unusual movie in an unusual place. While it's based on a character from a comic book, it also appears to be set in a world that is as "normal" as your average cinematic drama. In fact, the title is the only thing that makes it a comic book movie. If it were called something else, it could just as easily be your standard end-of-year theatrical drama about a disturbed individual that's looking for awards consideration.
And to be sure, Joker is also that. While most of us haven't seen the film, those that have are largely saying the movie, and Joaquin Phoenix's performance in it, could absolutely be Oscar contenders come next year.
The rest of us will finally get to see what all the fuss is about on October 4.