Panicked moviegoers at one Missouri movie theater called police after a publicity stunt for "Iron Man 3" went terribly wrong earlier this month.
To promote the movie and entertain audiences, management at the Goodrich Capital 8 Theaters in Jefferson City, Mo., hired actors to dress up as members of S.H.I.E.L.D., the superhero agency from Marvel Comics featured in the movie. The problem was that part of the uniform included full tactical gear and fake assault weapons.
"We had just finished watching 'Iron Man 3,'"
one moviegoer, retired Army war veteran John Molock, told ABC 17 News. "We're just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side."
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In light of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting last July,
many panicked moviegoers called 911.
"We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters," Captain Doug Shoemaker, of the Jefferson City Police Department, told ABC 17 News.
"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."
Capital 8 Theaters manager Bob Wilkins defended the decision as "entertainment," but the business still posted an apology on Facebook.
"We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for 'Iron Man 3.' 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."
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