2 Men Arrested at ‘Joker' Screening at Chicago Movie Theater

Two men were arrested during an opening weekend screening of "Joker" at a Chicago movie theater, according to police.

Authorities said the incident took place at around 7:17 p.m. Sunday night at the AMC River East 21, located in the 300 block of East Illinois Street in the city's Streeterville neighborhood.

Officers responded to a call of a "disturbance" at the theater, Chicago police said in a statement, and found multiple witnesses reporting that two men, both 23, were "smoking and causing a loud disturbance" inside the theater.

One witness said the men lit something inside the theater and started shining some kind of light, walking back and forth and making weird noises.

The witness said the men were making moviegoers "very nervous" and estimated that about half of those watching the film left early because of the disruption, some to call the police.

The men were taken into custody without further incident, officials said. No injuries were reported, according to police, and charges were pending as of Monday morning.

The opening weekend of the new R-rated "Joker" film prompted extra layers of security at various screenings, as well as scrutiny over its violent content. Multiple theaters banned costumes and masks during showings, and police forces stepped up patrols across the country.

Twelve people were killed and dozens injured in a July 2012 shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, theater during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," another film centered on the "Batman" universe.

Relatives of some of the victims of that shooting sent a letter to the Warner Bros. expressing their concerns with the film starring the titular villain as a "protagonist with a sympathetic origin story."

In a statement to NBC News, Warner Bros. said it believed gun violence is a major issue and extended condolences to families touched by tragedy, adding that the company had "a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora."

A threat to a Huntington Beach, California, showing of "Joker" shut down an entire theater on Thursday night, with patrons turned away for all showings beginning after 4:45 p.m.

At a theater in New York City's Times Square on Friday, a man who was loudly cheering and applauding on-screen murders during the film sent some for the exits before security escorted him out to be interrogated by police. 

Chicago police posted a video on Twitter Friday showing officers patrolling a movie theater, not referencing the film by name but with one officer saying, "If you want to do something simple like come out and enjoy a movie, officers throughout the city will be deployed in force to make sure that you have a safe and fun event."

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