US cinemas ban lightsabers at Star Wars: The Force Awakens screenings

Luke Skywalker with Lightsaber

Security concerns following shootings in Louisiana and Colorado prompt Cinemark and AMC to prohibit masks and fake weaponry

Star Wars fans will be banned from wearing masks, and in some cases carrying lightsabers, when attending screenings of the new episode The Force Awakens at certain US cinemas next month.

Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest chain with more than 400 sites in 40 states, has said it will prohibit masks, face paint and “simulated weapons (including lightsabers/blasters)”. AMC, which has 346 sites in North America, will also restrict fan apparel. It said on its website: “AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience. Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks. In short, bring your lightsaber, turn it off during the movie, and leave the blaster and Darth Vader mask at home.”

The ban on certain types of Star Wars merchandise comes at a time of increasing concern over security at US cinemas following the fatal shooting of two women at a screening of Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck at a Lafayette, Louisiana cinema in July and the killing of 12 people during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 by a gunman dressed as the Joker.

Regal, the US’s largest chain, and AMC both placed restrictions on masks and fake weapons in the wake of the Aurora shooting, and there were calls for metal detectors to be placed in cinemas after the killings in Lafayette. August’s Los Angeles premiere of rap biopic Straight Outta Compton featured metal detectors at the entrance and extra security, though the evening passed without incident.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in the US on 18 December, a day after its UK debut.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 3rd November 2015 15.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010