Joker: Premiere Alert; Fears of Real Violence

LAPD plans to increase its visibility at theaters when the highly anticipated Joker opens next week, amid heightened law enforcement concerns about the violent Warner film.

Starring Phoenix in an Oscar-caliber performance, Joker world premiered to positive reviews at the Venice Film Fest.

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.”

In 2012, a shooter killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. Families of some of the victims have raised concerns about “Joker,” in which Joaquin Phoenix plays the character as a depressed loner whose failures as a standup comic provoke a violent rampage.

The studio said that the film is not an “endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.”

On Thursday, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips — whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the Aurora shooting — released a response to Warner’s statement, in which they urged the studio and its parent company, AT&T, to “put its money where its mouth is and announce that it will no longer provide political donations to candidates and lawmakers who stand in the way of gun reform.”

The statement was crafted with the help of Guns Down America, a gun reform non-profit. It noted that in 2016 the parent company of Warner provided at least $66,000 in political contributions to members of Congress who accept NRA funding.

Theater chains declined to discuss specifics about their security protocols. However, insiders said that discussions are taking place about the best ways to ensure guests’ safety as the controversy around the film builds.

AMC, the world’s largest exhibitor, reaffirmed its costume policy, one that it put in place in the wake of the Aurora shooting. “Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks, face paint or any object that conceals the face,” the company statement read. “AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience.”

Regal Cinemas, the country’s second largest exhibitor, said it was working in conjunction with the National Association of Theatre Owners, the exhibition industry lobbying group, to remain in regular contact with law enforcement. It stated:  “At Regal, we do not believe the content or the existence of any movie is a cause or a signal for violence.”

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