While a movie theater in Jefferson City, Missouri issued a public apology on Friday for using fake gunmen during a showing of Iron Man 3, the theater's manager said he did not regret the promotional tactic, despite complaints from customers.
KMIZ-TV reported on Thursday that viewers called police after spotting a man with a gun and wearing tactical gear entering the Goodrich Capital 8 Theaters after the film premiered there last weekend.
"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 a 9-millimeter on his side, walking toward the theater," said one moviegoer that evening, John Morlock, who said the incident triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder to resurface.
The man turned out to be a local actor with fake firearms, part of a troupe hired by the theater to portray agents of "S.H.I.E.L.D," a government agency featured in many Marvel Entertainment movies. The theater's manager, Bob Wilkins, said the promotional stunt had been planned for months.
But the incident prompted other customers to call police.
"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," said police Capt. Doug Shoemaker, alluding to the July 2012 mass shooting by James Holmes during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. "There's really no good that can come of this."
The theater released an apology on Friday on its Facebook page.
"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," the statement said. "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."
Capitol 8 manager Bob Wilkins said that while he considered Holmes' attack, he did not regret hiring the actors.
"My job is to entertain people," he told the station.
[Image via Goodrich Capital 8 Theaters Facebook page]
[h/t The AV Club]