Movie theaters and cities around the country were beefing up security as they prepped for the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” this week.
Anticipating large crowds, police in Boston promised to have extra patrols on the street and said the department had been in touch with area cinemas to talk security.
“We have asked that they step up their security man power and increase visibility both inside and outside of the theaters. Many theaters are recommending that patrons leave any large backpacks at home,” BPD spokesman Stephen McNulty told Metro.
In Philadelphia, a manager at the Cinemark University City Penn 6 theater, Troy Pugh, told Metro there would be a strict no toy weapon policy. The theater bans both toy guns and lightsabers, he said.
Pugh also said there would be two guards and a police officer on duty at the cinema, and said more guards would be on call in case the crowd is larger than expected.
“We’ve been preparing for this movie for a couple of months,” Pugh said. “We’re definitely prepared, so everything should be fine.”
The Philadelphia Police Department, meanwhile, said there were no plans to change usual patrols for the release.
"Just go out and have fun and enjoy the movie. Police will definitely out, as we always are," said department spokeswoman Tanya Little.
She also said it was up to theaters to add security as Philly theater-owners see fit.
"That would be solely up to the establishment," Little said. "That's not our jurisdiction."
Hoping to warn any toy gun-toting fans, AMC theaters, the national cinema chain, released a list of rules for excited moviegoers looking to dress up.
“AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience,” the advisory reads. “Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks or face paint. In short, bring your lightsaber, turn it off during the movie, and leave the blaster and Darth Vader mask at home.”
One of the many super-fans wearing movie-themed get-ups to theaters was Barbara So of Gloucester, Massachusetts, who had been at the AMC Boston Common since midnight for a day-long “Star Wars” marathon.
She and her husband Cameron Lowe, who brought green and blue lightsabers, did their homework and read through the outfit policy before donning costumes, she said.
“We wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything that was going to prevent us from getting access,” she said.
National Amusements, another cinema chain, is also upping its security presence, spokeswoman Rachel Lulay told Metro.
“With increased crowds we increase security, as will be the case with ‘Star Wars,’” Lulay said in an email.
The chain also has a policy on movie fan attire that bans face-coverings and fake weapons.
“Guests are welcome to dress in costume with movie related accessories, however we reserve the right to respectfully inspect all items that our guests may decide to bring with them,” Lulay wrote.
Many theater managers declined to comment to Metro about safety precautions, deferring to their national corporate headquarters.
Back in Boston, where the City Council recently voted to ban all lifelike guns in public places, the police spokesman advised “Star Wars” fans to leave their mock futuristic handguns and “items which may be viewed as legitimate weapons” at home.
Pressed on what from the “Star Wars” universe would count as looking “legitimate,” McNulty said in an email: “I would say a toy blaster could be viewed as a firearm — a lightsaber would not be confused with any weapon based in reality.”
The New York City Police Department did not immediately respond to questions on security arrangements for the film's release.