Movie fans have been dressing up at opening night movie screenings for a while now. I have no idea when it started. But I can remember the television news coverage from the midnight showings of Harry Potter that seemed to have every fan wearing some sort of Harry Potter costume. There was also newspaper coverage of the phenomenon, such as this Daily Herald story. It apparently happened at Star Wars and Watchmen movies as well. And, this year, the Hunger Games and The Avengers.
However, the shooting in Aurora, Colorado on Friday at the midnight opening of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises will lead theaters to reconsider the appropriate policy toward these guests. AMC Loews quickly released a statement on Friday that masks and toy weapons are not allowed in theaters. The policy also bans any costume which makes other guests uncomfortable. I’m sure that other movie theaters will follow their lead and ban some or all costumes in the wake of the tragedy. Regal Entertainment, the nation’s largest theater chain operating Regal Cinemas and United Artists, hadn’t announced a specific policy as of Friday but said that moviegoers should expect “stricter controls over character attire and accessories ….”
If you were planning to attend the show in costume this weekend, I would recommend against it. There’s still too much uncertainty about how theaters, and moviegoers, will react. Here’s some coverage about the policies for costumes in theaters that I discovered, which may be of interest and helpful to you:
Some costumes banned at AMC theaters after ‘Dark Knight’ shooting – Los Angeles Times
AMC Theaters Bans Costumes at Screenings in Light of ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Shooting – MTV
MJR Theaters bans costumes, masks for moviegoers – The Detroit News
Wearing Costumes to Films Questioned – Fresno Bee
What do you think should happen in the long term? Should movie theaters ban costumes for good because of security concerns in the wake of the tragedy and spoil the party atmosphere that has developed around opening night? Should they extend the heightened restrictions found this weekend for all opening weekend shows or every show? Or should they implement other security measures and allow guests to continue to do what they love – see the film in the costume of their favorite character?