A Paris theater evacuated a room full of “Joker” moviegoers after an audience member reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” during the film. The incident took place at Paris’s Grand Rex theater on Sunday.
What are the details?
According to Le Parisien, a 34-year-old male from nearby Paris suburb Boulogne-Billlancourt allegedly shouted the Arabic phrase (which is translated to “God is great”) during the film, prompting theater management to issue an evacuation order.
The man’s shout also prompted at least 25 moviegoers to rush out of their seats and head for the exits.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that the man grumbled throughout the film, often insisting “it’s political.” Other people in the theater reportedly told the man to keep quiet, but about halfway through the film, the man began shouting and muttering in the Arabic language.
During the rush to exit, the man was able to evacuate along with other patrons, but authorities were able to track the suspect down and arrest him.
The theater’s director told The Hollywood Reporter that the suspect reportedly staged the disturbing incident in order to serve as a decoy for his accomplice, a thief.
“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.”
“It was total panic,” one filmgoer said.
Another added, “It was [a] riot! … The guy, who was sitting in the 10th row, started screaming and muttering in Arabic. Someone said … that he had a weapon, there was total panic, these are images that I will not forget, people have climbed their seats. … [There were] women on the floor and others who were stepping over them. “
The director added that some viewers remained to watch the end of the film. Upon conclusion, Paris police sent in the bomb squad to search for explosives. None were recovered at the scene.
“The movie attracts a specific kind of viewer, notably people who are against the system,” the director told Le Parisien. “There have been minor incidents in other theaters.”