Jefferson City, MO — An Iron Man 3 publicity stunt resulted in local police swarming a theater during the blockbuster film’s opening weekend in search of a gunman who was wearing full tactical gear.
Iron Man 3 is “killing” at the box office, but at least some moviegoers thought that they were witnessing another Aurora, Colorado, copycat situation and called 911 about an armed man in body armor.
Last July, a gunman opened fire during The Dark Knight Rises premiere in Aurora, killing 12 and wounded about 70 others.
Police who responded to the Capital 8 Theaters during the Iron Man 3 showing thought that had an “active shooter investigation” on their hands. It turned out that it was a false alarm. The man was just an actor dressed up as a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative carrying a fake gun. The theater had hired several such actors as part of the opening weekend festivities.
Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker said that the stunt was very ill advised. “Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen. There’s really no good that can come of this.” The officer added that the situation could have potentially turned ugly if an off-duty officer (perhaps providing security for the theater) would “have engaged the actor.”
The theater claimed claimed that the publicity stunt had been in the works for months and that it was all in good fun. He added that most of the moviegoers found the S.H.I.E.L.D actors entertaining and only a few actually got scared. That notion seems to be borne out by comments left on the theater’s Facebook page.
There must have been some degree of backlash about the publicity stunt (or non-stunt depending upon your interpretation perhaps), however, because the theater today posted an apology to its customers:
“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.”
Iron Man 3 has been setting records for ticket sales across the globe and doesn’t seem to be in any need of any local promotional help. Robert Downey Jr.’s latest movie had a $175.3 million opening weekend in North America and should continue to do big business this weekend.