LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) – Hollywood studio Warner Bros. is pushing back against criticism that the upcoming “Joker” film glorifies gun violence.
Alarmed by violence depicted in trailers for the upcoming movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, some survivors of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting are asking distributor Warner Bros. to commit to gun control causes.
Sandy Phillips’ daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was one of 12 people killed during a midnight showing of the Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” also distributed by Warner Bros.
Phillips and four other Aurora survivors sent a letter to Warner on Tuesday asking the studio to lobby for gun control.
The letter read in part: We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe”, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Phillips says she was compelled to act after seeing a trailer for “Joker,” the Batman villain portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in the film being released next month.
In a statement, Warner Bros. spokesman Paul McGuire said. “It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”
“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic”, McGuire said.
“At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind”, he added.
“Joker” is set for release Oct. 4.