You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Joker’ Premiere: Todd Phillips Lets Film ‘Speak for Itself’ at Hollywood Debut

With a quick joke and a plea to let his film stand alone as art, director Todd Phillips unveiled “Joker” to an audience of executives and glitterati at the film’s buzzed-about Hollywood premiere.

Forgoing the usual introduction of cast and producers, Phillips made a quip to the audience at Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese Theater: “If you like the movie, tell a friend, we haven’t gotten enough press.”

Phillips, of course, refers to a nearly two weeks of headlines that “Joker” has inspired thanks to its violent content and themes of mental instability and anarchy that Batman’s most famous foe is known for.

Security was tight but not excessive, with check-in perimeters extended a few feet more than normal for premieres, and traffic on a shut-down Hollywood Blvd condensed to a single lane for talent arrivals. Car interiors and trunks were inspected by police with dogs.

Despite news that red carpet interviews would not be conducted, fans still packed the opposite side of Hollywood Blvd to catch glimpses of stars. Upon star Joaquin Phoenix’s arrival, a group of fans with selfie-sticks chanted his first name repeatedly.

The event received heightened attention after it was reported that Warner Bros. would not invite print and broadcast press to conduct interviews on the event’s red carpet, opting only for photos at the TCL Chinese Theater.

“Our red carpet is comprised of photographers only,” a studio spokesperson told Variety at the time. “A lot has been said about ‘Joker,’ and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film.”

The move to reduce access to the director and stars like Phoenix (in the titular, notoriously dark role) and leading lady Zazie Beetz comes as law enforcement and theater owners are increasing vigilance in preparation for the October 4 wide release.

Mid-sized theater chain Landmark is prohibiting costumes based on Phoenix’s turn as the iconic Batman villain. On Thursday, Variety reported that the Los Angeles Police Department would ramp up  visibility at area theaters. The department said it has not received any specific threats about the movie, but encouraged moviegoers to be watchful.

Both Phillips and Phoenix touched on the topic in an interview with IGN last week. Phillips, who directed “The Hangover” trilogy to great success and transformed his “Joker” executive producer Bradley Cooper into a leading man, said the film examines “lack of love, childhood trauma, and lack of compassion in the world.”

Furthermore, he believes “people can handle that message. It’s so, to me, bizarre when people say, ‘Oh, well I could handle it. But imagine if you can’t.’ It’s making judgments for other people.”

More Film

  • Julia Roberts Harriet Tubman

    Studio Exec Suggested Julia Roberts Play Harriet Tubman, 'Harriet' Screenwriter Says

    Multi-talented multi-hyphenate Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic “Harriet.” But according to “Harriet’s” screenwriter, Gregory Allen Howard, Julia Roberts — yes, white woman Julia Roberts — was once suggested by a studio executive to play the role. In a Q&A for “Harriet” studio Focus Features as well as a piece for the [...]

  • Atlantics

    Variety Names 10 Directors to Watch for 2020

    Before film critics start summing up the present year at the movies with a deluge of Top 10 lists, Variety gazes into the medium’s future by announcing its annual 10 Directors to Watch — a lineup of filmmaking talents who’ve stood out on the recent festival circuit, or whose movies will soon be hitting screens [...]

  • Napa Valley Film Festival Winners: 'Lucky

    'Lucky Grandma' Wins Napa Valley Film Festival Narrative Feature Prize

    “Lucky Grandma,” “The Remix: Hip Hop in Fashion” and “The Nomads” were among the winners of the Napa Valley Film Festival, which ran Nov. 13-17 in various towns in the valley. The winner of the narrative feature was “Lucky Grandma,” presented by ZD Wines, which won a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley. [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' to Blast Off in China in December

    The Brad Pitt-starring sci-fi blockbuster “Ad Astra” will land in Chinese theaters on December 6, more than two months after its U.S. debut. Directed, co-written and produced by James Gray (“The Lost City of Z,” “Two Lovers”), the thriller also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland and Ruth Negga. Pitt plays an astronaut [...]

  • Fred Wolf to Direct 'Love 40'

    Film News Roundup: Fred Wolf to Direct Tennis Rom-Com 'Love 40'

    In today’s film news roundup, Fred Wolf is directing a romantic comedy in New York; Leah Remini, Chinoye Chukwu, Marielle Heller and Lulu Wang receive honors; and the topless bar documentary “Red Dog” finds a home. ‘LOVE 40’ Bluewater Lane Productions has brought on Fred Wolf to co-write and direct the romantic comedy “Love 40,” [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Lupita Nyong'o Follows Hollywood's Tradition of Two Roles in One Film

    Peter Sellers played three roles in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 “Dr. Strangelove.” In December of that year, Variety reported that Columbia was mounting an Oscar campaign for lead actor, but was also considering three supporting-actor campaigns, for each of his characters. (They settled on one campaign, and Sellers’ nomination as lead actor was one of the [...]

  • 'Legion' TV show premiere

    Noah Hawley to Write and Direct Next 'Star Trek' Movie

    “Fargo” and “Legion” creator Noah Hawley has been tapped to write and direct the next installment of the “Star Trek” franchise, sources tell Variety. Though plot details are being kept under wraps, sources tell Variety the next “Star Trek” is expected to see Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Zoe Saldana returning to man [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content