Joker Film Has Theaters on Alert

This weekend marks the opening of the much-anticipated film The Joker, which chronicles the early life and background of Batman's arch-rival. Joaquin Phoenix portrays the character as a troubled loner with mental health issues who slowly becomes the evil, face paint-wearing Joker.

The Joker is actually the second film involving a scary clown to be released this fall, but critics have expressed concerns over possible violence at theaters due to reported online chatter among fans of the character and those who identify with him. That has prompted movie theaters around the country to increase security for showings of the film, while some went even further. The theater in Aurora, Colorado where a deadly mass shooting occurred during the 2012 opening night of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises decided not to carry The Joker out of respect to the victims' families.

Houston-area moviegoers can also expect extra security when heading to the cinema. "For precautionary reasons, we will have some increased visibility around theaters in our coverage area," says Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. "Nothing over the top, and it's not meant to alarm anyone, as we do not have any credible threats or anything like that, so I want to emphasize that."

Gonzalez tells KTRH that those attending The Joker or any film this weekend can do their part, as well. "We ask people, whether law enforcement is in place or not, to always have situational awareness and vigilance, and if they see anything suspicious to report it," he says.

The Houston Police Department is taking a similar approach. In a written statement to KTRH, HPD spokesman Kese Smith says, "We're closely monitoring locations where (The Joker) is playing."

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