A screening of Joker in Paris was disrupted on Sunday night (October 27) after a man yelled “Allahu Akbar” in an alleged attempt to spark panic in order to stage a robbery.
The DC Comics and Warner Bros.-produced movie was being shown at The Grand Rex cinema in the French capital when the incident occurred.
According to Le Parisien, the 9:30PM screening of Joker on Sunday was interrupted by one man who, according to the director of The Grand Rex, intended to unsettle cinemagoers by repeatedly saying “it’s political” during the film. After being told to be quiet by those around him, the man reportedly stood up and yelled “Allahu Akbar”, which means “God is greatest” in Arabic.
This outburst reportedly caused several members of the audience to rush for the exits, with someone also falsely claiming that the man in question had a gun. When the man tried to leave the theatre, he was apprehended by several cinemagoers and a security guard — although he eventually managed to escape.
The man was later arrested by Paris police.
“It was total panic,” a cinemagoer named Victor told Le Parisien. “People jumped over seats and women fell to the ground in the aisles.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the director of The Grand Rex said that the suspect, along with an accomplice, had attempted to create panic in an effort to rob any items that were left behind by fleeing customers.
“They were two thieves looking for a way to take people’s phones and bags,” the director told the outlet. “Apparently they had already used the same tactic once on a train.”
The director added that the 500-seater theatre only had around 200 people in attendance, and that only 25% of those audience members fled during the initial moments of panic.
The theatre was later evacuated after the screening had finished, and Parisian police sent in the bomb squad and sniffers dogs to search for weapons and explosives — none of which were found.
Earlier this week, Joker actor Gary Gulman detailed one on-set incident where the film’s star Joaquin Phoenix managed to irk him with his “irritating” behaviour.