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Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, said four men in their late 20s on holiday from Auckland were "causing anxiety" at Rialto Cinemas yesterday evening.
One of the men showed a wad of money to his friends and claimed Isis, the international terrorist organisation, paid well.
Police were called and officers trespassed the men.
The offender later said it was a joke.
No further action was taken.
Sr Sgt Dinnissen said the men had clearly aggravated or antagonised other people in the cinema.
"With the current environment there's only so much stupidity you can tolerate."
Locals took to social media to vent their views over the incident, which sparked mixed reviews.
"A pretty inappropriate joke, not funny at all... and yes, I do have a sense of humour," one person said.
Another questioned why police needed to be involved.
"Do we really need the police involved in bad comedy, it is pathetic," another said.
"They should have just been asked to leave....don't think the police needed to be involved."
Isis is also the name of the rehabilitation centre at Wakari Hospital in Dunedin.
One person alluded to this in the Otago Daily Times Facebook page saying: "No they don’t. My friends work at ISIS here in Dunedin and they reckon it pays the same as regular nursing at the hospital."