LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- A theater in Southern California, the United States, which screened the R-rated thriller film "Joker" on its opening day, was forced to close Thursday evening due to a "credible" threat, authorities said Friday morning.
Police received information Wednesday about a possible threat to the Century Theater located at the Bella Terra shopping center in Huntington Beach and "deemed the threat was credible enough to provide a uniformed presence at the theater," according to the Huntington Beach Police Department.
"As the investigation continued, our officers worked with the managers of the theater, who determined they would cancel the final two showings of the movie and close the theater out of an abundance of caution," said the police department in a statement, adding that it was determined based on the investigation that the theater could safely reopen and resume normal operation on Friday.
The incident is still under investigation and the Huntington Beach Police Department will provide patrols at Century Theater for the rest of this weekend.
"We are working in conjunction with the theater's management as well as mall security to provide a safe environment to the public," the police department noted, without providing further details.
Based on DC Comics characters, "Joker" is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. The film follows the evolution of Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian who turns to the killer-clown Joker.
The film, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, brought in an impressive 13.3 million U.S. dollars in North America on Thursday, setting a new preview record for the month of October. For the full weekend, Joker is expected to top the list of biggest October openings with 80 million-plus dollars, the Hollywood Reporter reported.
The film has been a subject of significant controversy in the United States since it premiered at the Venice and Toronto film festivals earlier this year. Critics have raised concerns that the film could encourage copycat attacks in the country.
Families of the 2012 Aurora shooting victims condemned gun violence in the film. Twelve people were killed and 70 injured inside a theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film "The Dark Knight Rises."
Warner Bros. issued a response last week to a letter from the families of the victims of the Aurora shooting who are asking the Hollywood studio to advocate for gun safety ahead of the film's opening.
"Neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film," explained the studio in a statement.
"Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic," said the statement.
Los Angeles and New York City police departments increased police visibility near theaters showing the film.
"The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of the 'Joker,'" said LAPD in a statement last week amid concerns about the film.
"While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the department will maintain high visibility around theaters when it opens," the statement noted.
The FBI has received tips of threatening posts on social media calling for "unspecific mass shootings" linked to the release of "Joker," ABC News reported Thursday, citing a joint intelligence bulletin obtained by the news outlet.