NME Festival blog: Aurora shooting victims urge Warner Bros. to back gun reform ahead of ‘Joker’ release

Family members of those killed in the 2012 mass shooting have voiced their concerns about the new movie in a letter

Family members of the victims of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado mass shooting at a cinema have written to Warner Bros. to seek the studio’s support in backing gun reform ahead of the release of Joker.

The new movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the titular villain, will be released in the UK on October 4. Joker has already earned acclaim from critics, but it has also attracted controversy for its violent content.

Five family members of the 12 people who were killed in July 2012 at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora have now written to Warner Bros. to express their concerns about the film and ask if the studio will support gun reform efforts going forward.

The letter, which was supported by the nonprofit group Survivors Empowered and the gun control advocacy organisation Guns Down America, states: “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.” (via The Hollywood Reporter)

Joker, Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Joker’

The letter does not advocate a boycott of Joker nor does it indicate that it intends to halt the release of the movie, but rather it asks Warner Bros. to “end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform” and “use your political clout and leverage in Congress to actively lobby for gun reform.

“Keeping everyone safe should be a top corporate priority for Warner Brothers,” it adds.

Warner Bros. have since responded publicly to the letter, affirming that “neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind”. You can read their full statement below via Deadline.

“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.”

Last week, Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview with The Telegraph after he was asked about the film’s violent content. He later returned to finish the interview after calling a Warner Bros. PR for advice on the question he was asked.


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