Aurora Victim Families Are Still Pushing Back On Joker And Warner Bros.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker in full clown makeup
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

As the release of Todd PhillipsJoker looms near, so has the fear of violent tragedy repeating itself. Earlier this week, five families affected by the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting penned their concerns to Warner Bros. In the Tuesday letter, they asked the movie studio to cease all donations made to groups in affiliation to the National Rifle Association and to support groups aiding victims of gun violence.

Warner Bros. did respond with the clarification that Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime is not an “endorsement of real-world violence of any kind”. The studio also shared it has contacted policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address the gun violence epidemic in the U.S. Now, Parents to Aurora victim Jessica Phillips, Sandy and Lonnie say it’s not enough. Check out how the couple responded to Warner Bros:

In its statement, Warner Bros. highlighted its past support for the survivors of gun violence and its rhetorical public call on lawmakers in Congress to pass stronger gun reform laws. Let us be clear: Asking for change is a good first step, but it’s nowhere near enough. Warner Bros. and its parent company must put its money where its mouth is and announce that it will no longer provide political donations to candidates and lawmakers who stand in the way of gun reform.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are now calling for Warner Bros’ parent company AT&T to announce a complete abandonment of funding to anyone involved against reforming gun legislation. The couple signed the letter alongside gun control advocate Igor Volsky of Guns Down America on Thursday, per THR. Warner Bros has not yet responded to their plea.

In the past week, a conversation revolving around national safety and Joker has been prevalent. On Monday, it was revealed that a memo was issued about a potential shooting threat in an unknown theater in Oklahoma during an upcoming screening of Joker on October 4. Multiple movie theaters have also banned the right for moviegoers to wear costumes at Joker showings as well and spoken to safety amidst its release.

Director Todd Phillips also shared a statement explaining the intention of his film and calling for Warner Bros to move their contributions to gun reform. In his words:

The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message... In the United States, individuals who are motivated to commit mass murder can easily acquire weapons of war to carry out their deadly acts. This is why we are calling on Warner Bros. to use its power, leverage, and platform to work alongside us in making firearms significantly harder to get.

Joaquin Phoenix also talked about the issue. In reference to the film's message, he said he doesn’t think it’s the responsibility of filmmakers to teach audiences morality or the difference between right and wrong. Phoenix also shared the importance to discuss the issues now surrounding the controversy of the movie. The actor has been heavily praised for his leading performance as the iconic DC villain in the character study.

Joker is expected to have a massive opening weekend of $100 million and has largely been showered by rave reviews from critics. It comes to theaters on October 4.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.