Regal Cinemas doesn't believe that Todd Phillips' upcoming Joker movie will cause violence. The Joaquin Phoenix-led film takes place in the late '70s and early '80s, back when the infamous DC villain was known as a man named Arthur Fleck who tries and fails to become a comedian. It first debuted at this year's Venice Film Festival, receiving mostly rave reviews and even winning the Golden Lion. But, despite the initial praise and a successful marketing run, Joker has found itself in controversial territory as the movie has sparked plenty of conversation centered on the violence within the film.
Many individuals have expressed their concerns over the upcoming release, including the Aurora theater in Colorado that experienced a violent shooting in 2012 during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Recently, the Aurora theater exclaimed that they will not be screening Joker, after numerous family members of the shooting victims expressed concerns over the film in a letter to Warner Bros. The U.S. Military also took a stance on the film by issuing warnings to soldiers about potential violent outbursts, following a discovery from the FBI of social media posts from extremists known as "incels". With only a week to go before the film's release, plenty of companies have already taken stances on how they'll be handling Joker once it hits theaters, and now Regal Cinemas is adding their voice to the ever-growing conversation.
According to The Wrap, Regal Cinemas released a statement explaining that they do not believe "the content or existence of any movie is a cause or signal for violence." But, even though they don't comment on security protocols, "patron and employee safety is [their] foremost concern." AMC Theaters and Landmark Theatres also issued statements in agreement with Regal that safety is a top priority. AMC has also expressed that guests may wear costumes to the premiere, "but not masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face." Landmark, however, will not be allowing costumes by either employees or guests.
Joker's director, Todd Phillips, has addressed the ongoing controversy surrounding his upcoming film. He explained that the movie is set in a fictional world with a fictional character, and it is not endorsing real-world violent behavior. He even compared Joker to the Keanu Reeves-led John Wick 3, stating that the backlash with his movie seemed unfair, which Joaquin Phoenix also agreed with. Warner Bros. also responded to the backlash by stating that the titular character is not to be held up as a hero, adding in that they believe storytelling is meant to provoke these kinds of conversations.
Warner Bros. does make a point with their statement. Storytelling is meant to spark conversation, and Joker is igniting one that needs to be had, especially within today's society. The discussion on whether entertainment incites violence is something that's been happening for a while now in regard to both movies and video games. Even though it's unfortunate that Phillips' Joker is the film to be hit with this spotlight right now, it's important to keep these conversations going and understand why they're being had.
Source: The Wrap
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