Moviegoers flee 'Joker' screening after man shouts 'Allahu Akbar!'
A screening of Joker on Sunday night at the Grand Rex cinema in Paris came to a terrifying halt after a man screamed "Allahu akbar!" in the middle of the movie, Le Parisien reported on Monday.
Several moviegoers fled the theatre as a result of what they believed was a terrorist threat - but was actually a ploy to steal personal items from the audience, including phones and bags.
Those who attended the 9:30 pm screening of the blockbuster at the Grand Rex cinema only got halfway through the film before the incident occurred.
The man, whose name has not been released, was heard repeating the words, "It's political", prompting people in the audience to ask him to be quiet.
It was then that the suspect, who was later identified as a 34-year-old male residing in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, stood up from his seat and placed his hands on his chest and shouted, "Allahu akbar!"
Some of the moviegoers erroneously claimed that the man had a gun in the aftermath of what they thought would be a tragic ordeal.
"It was total panic," an audience member named Victor told Le Parisien. "People jumped over seats and women fell to the ground in the aisles."
Take a look at this outtake from Joker, featuring Joaquin Phoenix:
The suspect himself attempted to flee the scene, prompting several moviegoers and a security guard to wrestle him to the ground. When police arrived, the man was taken into custody.
The director of the Grand Rex told The Hollywood Reporter that the man was working with an accomplice when he staged the incident with the aim of stealing the audience members' personal items.
"They were two thieves looking for a way to take people's phones and bags. Apparently, they had already used the same tactic once on a train," he explained.
The Grand Rex’s management says they will be pressing charges against the suspect.