Deadline reports that the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker will not play at the Cinemark Aurora Theater where a gunman opened fire at a 2012 showing of Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and wounding 70. The decision was reportedly made both by Warner Bros. and Cinemark after the Aurora victims’ families wrote an open letter to Warner Bros. chairperson and CEO Ann Sarnoff.
The letter, written by the families of Jessica Ghawi, Alexander J. Boik, Ashley Moser, and Tina Coon, does not ask the studio to halt the release of the film, instead asking Warner Bros. to “use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.” Their specific demands of Warner Bros. include ending political contributions to candidates who vote against gun reform and using “political clout” to lobby for gun reform. Warner Bros. has not yet responded to the letter, but is expected to issue a statement, according to Deadline.
Joker has been courting controversy for its portrayal of the titular character, who goes on a shooting spree reminiscent of the Aurora tragedy, as a deeply troubled, sympathetic outcast. Phoenix and director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) have defended the film, which is set for an October release and premiered at the Venice Film Festival to warm reviews.