The Aurora, Colorado movie theater where a mass shooter killed 12 moviegoers and injured 70 more in 2012 will not screen Joker. According to TMZ, the Century Aurora and XD — the remodeled Century 16 theater — is not selling tickets for Joker becuase it won’t show the movie. Five family members of Aurora shooting victims penned a letter to Joker’s distributor Warner Bros., asking that the studio consider donating to charities that help victims of gun violence, and expressing concerns over the movie’s content and portrayal of the Joker character. On Tuesday, Warner Bros. replied with a statement:
Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic. At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. Is it not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.
In 2012, after a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the gunman James Holmes attacked the Aurora audience with an assault rifle and other weapons. Initially, Holmes was linked to the Joker character because of his bright orange hair and reports that he’d called himself that, but that reporting was later found to be false. In 2015, Holmes was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.