A Missouri movie theater planned to surprise guests with a publicity stunt to market "Iron Man 3." But the reaction from theater patrons was panic, not awe.
During the opening weekend of "Iron Man 3," a man dressed as Iron Man entered the theater with a team dressed in tactical gear and armed with fake guns, according to ABC 17.
With a movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., just last year, patrons panicked and called the police.
Initially, the theater's manager, Bob Wilkins, said he was not sorry about the promotion. But after a firestorm on social media, it seems Wilkins has had a change of heart.
“We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for ‘Iron Man 3’,” Wilkins said in a statement.
“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."
John Morlock, a war veteran that suffers from post-traumatic stress, said the stunt made him relive memories he never wanted to resurface.
"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 9 mm on his side," Morlock said.
When police arrived, they were prepared to respond to an actual shooting. Had an off-duty police officer been in the theater, one of the officers said, the scene may have ended badly had the actors not cooperated.
“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,” Wilkins said.