Fans dressing up as their favorite movie characters while attending opening weekend film showings is nothing new. However, costumed moviegoers who partnered with Capital 8 Theatres in Missouri to promote the premiere of Iron Man 3 recently caused a panic, for which the theater is now apologizing.
Had the cosplayers been dressed as Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, we imagine no one would have been particularly alarmed, but some group members donned S.H.I.E.L.D agent costumes — complete with fake firearms — which, given last year’s tragic shooting at an Aurora, CO movie theater (and the current high-alert mentality when it comes to guns), might not have been the best idea.
Moviegoers, understandably frightened by the sight of people dressed in what appeared to be body armor and carrying assault rifles, called the local police. Once the dust settled, the complaints began rolling in and the theater was skewered on social media, some even accusing Capital 8 of intentionally causing the kerfuffle as a publicity stunt. In response, the company issued the following apology:
“We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3. This was not a publicity stunt. We have worked with the Cosplacon group on many movies to dress up and help entertain our customers. We have had many complaints about the members dressed specifically as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives carrying fake guns. We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only. We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater. We have a wonderful working relationship with the Jefferson City Police Department. Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority.
In other words, “This was not a publicity stunt — just a completely tone-deaf oversight of the current social climate.” Though, we do think this is a pretty thorough and well-executed apology, despite the facepalm-worthiness of the attempted promotion; the theater takes complete responsibility, expresses regret, and offers assurances that it will take the necessary steps to prevent something similar to happen in the future.