Goodrich Quality Theaters has come under fire this week after its Capital 8 theater in Missouri hired a fake gunman for an "Iron Man 3" screening during the opening weekend of the film.
To be expected, the character, who wore full tactical gear and carried a fake gun, did not go over well as some patrons feared the worst. Jefferson City police officers responded to what they believed to be an active shooter situation after receiving several 911 calls from concerned moviegoers, ABC 17 News reports.
"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," Capt. Doug Shoemaker told the local news outlet.
After the officers arrived, it was revealed that the armed man was just a hired hand -- one of several the theater enlisted for the showing.
While some have criticized the company's choice to use a SWAT-like character, theater manager Bob Wilkins is defending the decision.
"There was no scenario that could have possibly been misconstrued for dangerous at all except for this one random overreacting guy," Wilkins told the Riverfront Times, adding the hired character had a "clear, plastic toy gun."
However, Capital 8 issued an apology on its Facebook page Friday afternoon.
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.
Following the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Co., in July 2012, which reignited the gun control debate, police nationwide have been particularly cautious when it comes to weapons and violence at theaters.