“Joker” premiere draws security concerns


@jokermovie / Instagram

Samantha Unger

This past weekend, the premiere of the R-rated DC Comics “Joker” film starring Joaquin Phoenix saw increased security amid fears of violence surrounding the film’s release. Armed police officers were stationed at theaters across the country after the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement about posts on social media and the dark web regarding possible attacks on movie theaters. Movie-goers were also subject to in-depth bag checks and metal detector screenings, with undercover officers deployed among crowds in the event of an incident.

Several theaters, including the AMC and Landmark chains, banned costumes and face paint for all future screenings of the “Joker.” This comes seven years after the 2012 mass shooting at “The Dark Knight Rises” screening in Aurora, Colorado. According to CNN, five family members and friends of victims of the shooting called on Warner Bros. to advocate for gun control in a letter asking the studio to “use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.”

Warner Bros. released a statement in response to the letter that read, “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.”

University junior Justin Winley, who saw the film on its opening night in New York City said, “I’d already heard about the enhanced security measures around ‘Joker’ before I went in. My friend who bought our tickets told me that when he got there, officers were standing in front of the theater armed with assault rifles. By the time I arrived, the squad cars were still parked but the officers didn’t seem to be in formation, and they were gone before our screening began. The security didn’t make me feel much differently — these things don’t really happen in the city.”

He continued, “This is a landmark moment in cinema history; no other film has ever caused this level of hysteria and societal paranoia. I can definitely tell my children about it!”

With an opening weekend that garnered close to $100 million, “Joker” set a historic record as the highest October debut of all time. It seems that the controversial reviews and security concerns did little to deter the film’s success, as “Joker” is expected to attract more movie-goers in the coming weeks and will surely remain a topic of conversation.