It can’t be easy coming up with innovative ideas for promoting feature films these days, but one movie theater’s decision to send fake gunmen into a recent screening of “Iron Man 3″ is being dubbed poorly planned and implemented, especially in light of recent events.

Capital 8 Theaters in Jefferson City, Missouri, is catching the ire of movie-goers and the police, alike, after promotional efforts apparently crossed a line for some.

Here’s how Gawker described the incident: “The promote its premiere of the new Iron Man movie, a theater in Jefferson City, Missouri, hired several people to dress in full tactical gear and storm the screening with fake weapons drawn.” While Gawker said that “men” (plural) went into the theater with fake weapons, other outlets reported that it was only one actor. Regardless, select members of the public were terrified.

Despite public frustration in the wake of the experience, the theater, according to KMLZ-TV, is defending its decision as one that was rooted in an effort to entertain the masses. Manager Bob Wilkins told the outlet that this promotion was planned for months and that only a few people were upset with its outcome.

“No, my job is to entertain people,” Wilkins said when asked if he had any regrets.

Terrified Moviegoers Call 911 After Theater Sends Fake Armed Gunman Into Iron Man 3 Screening | Capital 8

This film publicity image released by Disney-Marvel Studios shows Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in a scene from “Iron Man 3.” Credit: AP

But people like John Molock, a retired Army veteran, told the outlet that the antics triggered memories from the battlefield that he preferred not to recall.

“We had just finished watching Iron Man 3,” he said. “We’re just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side.”

The police received several calls about the armed individuals, which is no surprise, considering the deadly attack that took place at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, last year. Capt. Doug Shoemaker said that the calls reported that a man dressed in black with body armor and a rifle was walking into a movie theater.

Terrified Moviegoers Call 911 After Theater Sends Fake Armed Gunman Into Iron Man 3 Screening | Capital 8

This film publicity image released by Disney-Marvel Studios shows Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts with in a scene from “Iron Man 3.” Credit: AP

Officers thought they were responding to an active shooter investigation — until they realized that it was merely a promotion.

“Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen,” Shoemaker said of the scenario.

The police officer also noted that it’s a good thing no off-duty officers were in the theater, as engagement with the faux shooter could have ended badly. Luckily, no dangerous or unpalatable incidents unfolded.

(H/T: Gawker)