UPDATED: Warner Bros. Entertainment restricted print and broadcast journalists’ access to the red carpet at the Sept. 27 U.S. premiere of “Joker” in Hollywood, and on Tuesday announced that the New York Film Festival screening of the controversial movie would be photo-only as well.
The Hollywood premiere, which took place at the famous TCL Chinese Theatre, only allowed photographers access to talent and filmmakers. Attendees included Joaquin Phoenix, director Todd Philips, and supporting stars like Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy.
“Our red carpet is comprised of photographers only,” a studio spokesperson told Variety. “A lot has been said about ‘Joker,’ and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film.”
The move to restrict access to interviews comes after a week of headlines about the violent and provocative nature of the film, and measures to inform and protect American moviegoers as they prepare to screen it.
Mid-size theater chain Landmark is prohibiting costume play based on Phoenix’s turn as the iconic Batman villain. On Thursday, Variety reported that the Los Angeles Police Department would increase its visibility at area theaters. The department said it has not received any specific threats about the movie, but encouraged moviegoers to be vigilant.
“The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of ‘Joker,’” said department spokesman Josh Rubenstein. “While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the department will maintain high visibility around theaters when it opens.”
Concerns about the “Joker” movie and its portrayal of the titular character’s violent tendencies as a result of ostracization have sprung up since the movie’s debut at the Venice Film Festival, with some expressing worry the thriller paints the central mass murderer too sympathetically.
The families of the 2012 Aurora shooting signed a letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff that, despite refraining from calling for “Joker” to be pulled from release, did say the movie’s “sympathetic origin story… gave us pause.”
Instead of calling for a boycott or ban, the families and friends of victims asked Warner Bros. to end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform; use its political clout to lobby congressional leaders for gun reform; and fund survivor funds and gun violence intervention programs.
Warner Bros. responded with a statement of its own on Tuesday, writing that “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.”