UK cinema staff slammed for gas mask stunt after Batman slaughter
CINEMA-goers sitting down to watch the new Batman film watched in horror as an assistant strolled in wearing a gas mask just like the suspect on the Colorado gun massacre.
Schoolteacher Elizabeth Atkinson, 24, was in Worcester's Vue cinema in the UK with brothers James, 27, and Leo, 19, and said they were "appalled and sickened" by the publicity stunt.
She said a male member of staff walked into the cinema dressed as the film's villain Bane during a screening of the new Batman film on Friday, the same day a gunman also wearing a gas mask opened fire on a US cinema audience.
James Holmes, aged 24, appeared in court in the US yesterday, with his hair dyed red, following the killings which claimed the lives of 12 people, including that of a six-year old girl. The gun attack during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, near Denver, left 59 others wounded, many critically.
Elizabeth, from Worcester, said: "In light of the recent and tragic event during the screening of the new Batman film in Aurora, Colorado, I was shocked and appalled by the attitude displayed by the staff at the Vue cinema here in Worcester.
"While the trailers were in progress, one of the cinema attendants entered the screen room wearing a gas mask and stood to the side looking at the audience.
"This is exactly as the gunman in Colorado was reported to have been dressed. I was not the only one who found this to be extremely disconcerting and inappropriate.
"I raised my concerns to other staff members outside, explaining that this attendant was causing discomfort. The response I received was one to suggest that they were either unaware of the recent shooting, or they were indifferent to it.
"I was told simply that he was 'Dressed as the villain, Bane'. It was only when I explained further that the Colorado gunman was also dressed in this way, that the attendant was spoken to and the mask removed.
"One would have expected that the management of the Vue cinema would have been sensitive to this issue and dissuaded the staff members from dressing up. This incident was at best in poor taste, and at worst a sickening lack of respect."
Her brother James has written a letter of complaint to Vue.
Mr Atkinson, a freelance film maker, wrote "Even though I knew he was meant to be dressed as the character Bane from the film, I felt it was incredibly insensitive indeed in light of the recent shootings in America by a man wearing a gas mask."
A spokesman for Vue cinemas said: "Our staff are passionate about movies and often wear fancy dress on the opening day of blockbuster films.
"On this occasion a staff member started his shift in fancy dress, but removed it within minutes of being on site. We in no way meant to cause offence and wholeheartedly apologise for this misplaced enthusiasm.
"Everyone at Vue Entertainment has been deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic incident that took place in Denver. Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of all those who have been killed and injured."