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'Joker' movie opening to prompt increased LI police patrols, cops say

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker. Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/Niko Tavernise

Long Island police agencies say they will increase patrols around cinemas showing the new movie "Joker," amid concerns that the comic book-inspired flick could spur theater violence.

The R-rated thriller, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as a mentally ill loner who becomes Batman's archnemesis, officially opens in theaters across the country Friday. 

The premiere of the comic book villain's latest origin story has stirred fear that the character might inspire someone to commit an act of violence in a theater.

Although no credible threat exists, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said his officers would step up security around theaters.

“Out of an abundance of caution the Nassau County police will be intensifying patrols around all theaters that will be showing the movie the 'Joker' this weekend," Ryder said in a statement.

In addition, Ryder said the department's NCPD Homeland Security Unit would visit each theater in the coming days to discuss security measures with cinema management.

Ryder asked moviegoers to keep an eye out for signs of trouble. "I remind everyone, 'If you see something, say something,'” he said.

Suffolk police, while also stressing that there is no credible threat, also will be enhancing patrols, according to a statement. 

The movie is showing in some New York City theaters Thursday and will be screened Wednesday at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center during a film festival. The NYPD issued a statement Wednesday saying, "There are no specific or credible threats at this time, and these events will continue to be closely monitored." 

On July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a screening of the film "The Dark Knight Rises." James Eagan Holmes killed 12 people and injured dozens of others. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Last week, some parents of victims of that shooting, citing the opening of the new film, asked the Warner Bros. CEO to support gun reform. The studio issued a statement in response saying that the film was not “an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.”

Meanwhile, some theaters around the country are banning masks and costumes at showings.

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