Less than a year after the Aurora movie theater shooting, a theater in Missouri has sparked controversy for a gun-related publicity stunt.

During the opening weekend of "Iron Man 3," workers at Capital 8 Theatres in Jefferson City thought it would be a good idea to promote the superhero movie by hiring an actor to walk into the theater in full tactical gear carrying a fake gun. The stunt scared several moviegoers and prompted them to call police because they thought the man was a real shooter.

The police responded to the 911 calls, and Capt. Doug Shoemaker told ABC News 17, "We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theatres."

Shoemaker added, "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. There's really no good that can come of this."

The movie theater has faced criticism for the publicity stunt, which comes after last summer's shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., left a dozen dead and scores wounded.

The manager of the Missouri theater, Bob Wilkins, said the stunt was planned months ago and most of the moviegoers were entertained. When asked if he regretted hiring the actor, Wilkins replied, "No, my job is to entertain people."

Later, Goodrich Capital 8 Theatres posted an apology on Facebook, saying, in part, “We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man … We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only.

"We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater … Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority."