Warner Bros. Reportedly Had “Heated Discussion” About “Joker” and How to Market It

The film has sparked concern over whether it will inspire violence

Convicted pedophile Gary Glitter will reportedly earn royalties for "Joker" thanks to its inclusion of his song "Rock and Roll, Part 2"
Warner Bros.

Todd Phillips’ supervillain origin story Joker has already sparked controversy and caused the military to issue warnings about the movie’s potential to inspire violence, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. has struggled with how to market the film in a time when mass shootings are commonplace.

Citing “a source with knowledge of the conversations,” the publication reports that there was “heated discussion about the wisdom of the project,” adding that Walter Hamada, president of DC Entertainment-based film production, initially opposed the idea of making Joker before eventually changing his mind.

The character’s connection to the 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater’s screening of The Dark Knight Rises — killer James Holmes was rumored to have referred to himself as the Joker when he was taken into custody — caused families of the victims to send a letter to the studio on Sept. 24 asking that it donate to groups that aid victims of gun violence and lobby for gun control. “I just need to see a Joker promo and I see a picture of the killer,” Sandy Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in Aurora, told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” Warner Bros. responded in a statement.

The studio has done its best to market the movie as a prestige drama rather than a traditional comic-book movie, putting it out in October instead of during summer blockbuster season and trying to signal to parents that the movie is not suitable for children.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.