HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Warner Bros. is clamping down on publicity surrounding “Joker” amid concerns raised by families of the victims of the 2012 “Dark Knight Rises” theater shooting.
The studio banned press interviews at the film’s Hollywood premiere Saturday at TCL Chinese Theater.
“Our red carpet is comprised of photographers only,” a studio spokesperson said, “A lot has been said about ‘Joker’ and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film.”
Families of the victims of the 2012 “The Dark Knight Rises” shooting in Aurora, Colorado have raised concerns about the film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the famed “Batman” villain. The Aurora shooter is said to have been inspired by the character and the families are worried others will be, too.
“When we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called ‘Joker’ that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause,” the families wrote in an open letter to the studio. “We want to be clear that we support your right to free speech and free expression. But as anyone who has ever seen a comic book can tell you: with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why we’re calling on you to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.”
Warner Bros. responded with a statement of their own: “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. 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. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”
The Los Angeles Police Department says it’s aware of “public concerns” and the “historical significance associated with the premiere of the Joker.”
“While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the Department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when it opens,” LAPD said in a statement, “We encourage everyone to go out and enjoy all of the weekend leisure activities this city has to offer. However, Angelenos should remain vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings.”
In response to security concerns, the mid-size theater chain Landmark is prohibiting patrons from wearing costumes, masks and face paint to ‘Joker’ screenings.
On Saturday evening, CBS2/KCAL9’s Laurie Perez went to the unusual premiere — the stars walked the red carpet but — as promised — didn’t stop to talk.
Earlier this week, the FBI sent out an alert to tell film audiences to look for two escape routes in every theater they walked into and, if possible, “Run, Hide or Fight” in an active shooter situation.
Despite the fear of some, Perez had no trouble finding people eager to see the film.And fans don’t blame movies for tragedy — they blame the people who cause it.
“Movies like this don’t cause that, people do,” said Mark Anthony from Tucson, Arizona.
Ann Wannell of South Wales concurred.
“In this day and age,” she said, “kids play games that have the same from of themes, really.”
“Joker” opens nationwide October 4.