Joker trailer
[Photo via YouTube]

Family members of people who were killed in the 2012 shooting at a Colorado movie theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises have written a letter to Warner Bros. about their concerns regarding Joker

On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 12 people and injured 70. It took place at the Aurora Cinemark theater in Aurora, Colorado. 

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Now, family members of those victims are sharing their concerns about the upcoming Batman movie. The film is the first R-rated film in the franchise for its violence. They are also asking the studio to donate to groups that aid victims of gun violence. 

“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,” the letter reads, per The Hollywood Reporter. 

The nonprofit group Survivors Empowered worked with Igor Volsky of gun control advocacy group Guns Down America to write the letter to the studio. It was signed by five family members of victims. Those people are Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Heather Dearman, Theresa Hoover, and Tiina Coon. 

“My worry is that one person who may be out there — and who knows if it is just one — who is on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me,” Sandy Phillips, creator of Survivors Empowered, said of the film. 

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The letter does not call for the boycott of the film or the cancellation of the premiere. However, it asks the studios to  “end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform”. They also ask the studio to “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.”

The letter also says that the shooter was motivated by feeling “wronged by society”. The shooter was James Holmes who was convicted of 24 counts of first-degree murder. He is serving life in prison. Holmes was compared to the Joker character for his brightly dyed hair days after the shooting. 

“As a result, we have committed ourselves to ensuring that no other family ever has to go through the absolute hell we have experienced and the pain we continue to live with. Trust us, it does not go away,” the letter reads. 

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Along with the letter, Century Aurora and XD, the remodeled theater that the shooting took place at, will not be showing Joker when it premieres next week. 

While it’s unclear whose decision it was for the theater not to screen the film, Deadline reports it was a mutual understanding.

The film’s star Joaquin Phoenix recently left a press interview when he was asked a question about the film’s violent content. Phoenix, who plays Arthur Fleck, was speaking with The Telegraph critic Robbie Collin when the incident took place. 

The new movie allegedly features a lot of graphic violence that leads to the supervillain becoming such a dark character. Collin asked Phoenix if the film has the potential to incite reel-world violence. She asked if it “might perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results?”

Phoenix apparently asked why the reported asked the question and left the room. He returned an hour later, after speaking with a Warner Bros. PR person as to how to respond. He said he hadn’t anticipated the question, which is why he left. The Telegraph reports that they were never given a direct answer from the actor regarding the question. 

Joker hits theaters October 4. You can see the trailer below. 

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