Warner Bros. on Tuesday released a statement on its upcoming movie after families of victims killed in a 2012 theater shooting expressed concern about the content of the film and urged the company to fight gun violence. Twelve people were killed and 70 injured after Jake Holmes opened fire during a screening of another Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012.
Friends and family of the victims wrote a letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, calling on the company to lobby for gun reform and “end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform,” Variety reported. They also ask the company to give money to survivor funds and gun violence intervention programs. Warner Bros. confirmed that it received the letter.
In its statement, Warner Bros. said it extends its sympathy to all victims and families impacted by gun violence, and that it has a “long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora.” The company said it joined other business leaders in recent weeks in asking policymakers to roll out bipartisan legislation tackling the issue.
“At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues,” the company added. “Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”
Joker won’t play at the Aurora theater where the shooting took place, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Cinemark, which owns the theater, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Joker will be out in Australia on Oct. 3, and worldwide on Oct. 4., with some speculating Joaquin Phoenix could win an Academy Award for his role as the Clown Prince of Crime.
First published Sept. 24 at 4:08 p.m. PT.
Update, 4:24 p.m. PT: Adds confirmation from Warner Bros. that it received the letter.