Regal Cinemas Responds To Joker Safety Concerns

Joaquin Phoenix is Joker

Whenever there’s an outbreak of violence, or worse a shooting, in our nation, there’s a push from a vocal minority to link it to mass media. Video games, television shows and feature films often are blamed for inspiring an active shooter, as when The Matrix was linked to shooting at a high school in Columbine, or how Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was blamed for a movie-theater shooting because it happened to be on the screen when a gunman opened fire in Aurora, Colorado.

Recent chatter has emerged around the October 4 release of Todd PhillipsJoker, with Aurora families writing Warner Bros. and asking the studio to help increase awareness for gun safety. In response to the headlines, at least one major theater chain has weighed in regarding their policy ahead of Joker’s opening. In a statement provided to The Wrap, a Regal spokesperson said:

At Regal, we do not believe the content or the existence of any movie is a cause or a signal for violence. Nevertheless, although we do not comment on security protocols implemented by our theatres at any time, patron and employee safety is our foremost concern. In collaboration with NATO, we are in regular contact year-round with law enforcement so we have information to help make whatever security assessments they deem appropriate at all times.

The shootings in Auroa, Colorado were shocking. In 2012, audiences were merely excited to see how Christopher Nolan would conclude his Batman trilogy, and did not expect to become the center of the gun debate because an attack happened to take place at a multiplex.

However, in the years that have followed, mass shootings have occurred in almost all corners of our environment, from schools and churches to the streets of Las Vegas during a concert. In the wake of these attacks, everyone seeks increased security and hopes to raise awareness on potential gun violence.

That doesn’t mean that we necessarily see why this push is being linked to a movie like Joker. While those who have seen the movie recognize that Joaquin Phoenix’s comic-book villain serves as a catalyst for anarchy, claiming that anything that happens in this movie differs from most of the films opening in theaters on a weekly basis is miscalculated.

Even Joker director Todd Phillips recognized the imbalanced scrutiny his movie appears to be facing, even before it has opened in theaters. Citing a comparison to a violent movie like John Wick, Phillips told The Associated Press:

The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real-world implications, opinions, but it’s a fictional character in a fictional world that’s been around for 80 years. The one that bugs me more is the toxic white male thing when he goes, ‘Oh, I just saw John Wick 3. He’s a white male who kills 300 people and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering.' Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.

No one wants to see anything violent happen at a movie theater. For so many of us, the movie theater is a place of escape, a means of transporting ourselves into far-away stories on the biggest screens possible. And while we in no way mean to downplay the concerns raised by the families from Aurora, where a tragic event took place, we encourage everyone to stay vigilant at EVERY movie they go to see – not just Joker – and to say something if you see something. Reporting a potential threat can help prevent a possible attack. Look out for each other, and enjoy the movies.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.