In the days leading up to the release of "Joker," families of the Aurora, Colorado, mass killing victims are calling on Warner Bros. to help fight gun violence.
A killer opened fire on moviegoers at a theater Aurora in 2012 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." The massacre took the lives of at least 12 people and injuring more than 70 others. Early reports on the massacre said that the killer referred to himself as "the Joker," but investigations found that there was never any evidence that the killer said that.
The new "Joker" movie follows a man whose significant mental illness leads to deadly violence.
What are the details?
The families and friends of the Aurora victims penned an open letter to Warner Bros. sharing their concerns about the forthcoming project, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which stars actor Joaquin Phoenix as the namesake character.
The letter also asks the studio to donate to groups that help the victims affected by gun violence.
"We are the family members and friends of the 12 people killed at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' on July 20, 2012," a portion of the open letter — which is addressed to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff — said. "This tragic event, perpetrated by a socially isolated individual who felt 'wronged' by society has changed the course of our lives."
"When we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called 'Joker' that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause," the letter continued.
The letter explained that while the group supports both free speech and expression, it also believes that the studio is responsible for using its "massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns."
The group says that Warner Bros. can publicly sever ties with any politicians who receive donations from the National Rifle Association, because such politicians are "literally putting your customers and employees in danger."
"[A]nyone who has ever seen a comic book movie can tell you: with great power comes great responsibility," the letter adds.
"Joker" hits theaters Oct. 4.
The theater where the 2012 massacre took place will not be screening the film.
Phoenix weighs in
Phoenix said that he doesn't believe the film is dangerous.
The 44-year-old actor walked out on a press interview for the film on Monday after an interviewer asked if the film could promote violence.
On Tuesday, Phoenix spoke out on the idea that "Joker" would inspire mayhem.
"Well, I think that, for most of us, you're able to tell the difference between right and wrong," Phoenix told IGN. "And those that aren't are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to. People misinterpret lyrics from songs. They misinterpret passages from books. So I don't think it's the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong. I mean, to me, I think that that's obvious."
He added that emotionally disturbed people can find inspiration almost anywhere in order to carry out horrific deeds.
"The truth is you don't know what is going to be the fuel for somebody," Phoenix said. "And it might very well be your question. It might be this moment, right? But you can't function in life saying, 'Well, I can't ask that question for the small chance that somebody might be affected by [it].' I wouldn't ask you to do that."
"It's uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable for all of us," Phoenix added. "I think we all are aware of these issues and we're concerned, and I think that's why we talk about it. I don't think that we can be afraid to talk about it."
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