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Theater chain to 'Star Wars' fans: Leave Vader mask at home

AMC has tweaked the language in their longstanding policy on appropriate props and attire at screenings in a nod to "The Force Awakens."
The costume of an imperial stormtrooper is pictured. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty)
The costume of an imperial stormtrooper is pictured.

"Star Wars" fans looking to dress up in costumes for "The Force Awakens" may be in for a rude awakening in light of theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Lafayette, Louisiana.

One of the nation's largest theater chains, AMC, has tweaked the language in their longstanding policy on appropriate props and attire at screenings in a nod to the soon-to-be blockbuster sequel in the "Star Wars" saga. “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,” read a statement on the company's website.

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"For context, the first two sentences of that statement is our standard costume policy all of the time and has been in place for a number of  years, applying to all movies, without any significant negative feedback from guests," AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan told MSNBC via email. "It was not 'recently adopted' or put in place for this specific movie, as has been reported in several places."

MSNBC reached out to Regal (the nation's largest theater chain) and Cinemark (the nation's third largest) for comment on whether they plan to impose similar rules or if they already do, but have not heard back at this time. However, Entertainment Weekly spotted this tweet, which includes a poster at a Cinemark location which reads: “'Star Wars' costumes are welcome. However, no face coverings, face paint, or simulated weapons (including lightsabers/blasters) will be allowed in the building.”

In December of 2012, moviegoers and the nation at large were shocked by the murder of 12 people during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado. That incident reinvigorated a national conversation on both gun control and safety precautions at American movie theaters. This July, those fears were stoked again, when a gunman opened fire during a screening of the Amy Schumer comedy "Trainwreck" in Lafayette, Louisiana, killing two and wounding 11 others.

“On Thursday, July 23, a man sat down for my movie, 'Trainwreck.' I don’t know why he picked my movie,” the actress said on Sunday. “It is something I live with every day.” 

Since that incident, Schumer has become an increasingly outspoken proponent of gun control, appearing alongside her cousin, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, to lobby for legislation that would expand background checks and further limit arms trafficking across state boundaries.