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The theater that was targeted in the 2012 Aurora mass shooting will not be showing Joker

Screenshot: YouTube

As movie theaters prepare for Joker’s October 4 wide release, there is one theater that will not be showing the film at all. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Century Aurora and XD—the Colorado movie theater that was targeted in the horrific massacre that took place during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises—is opting out of showing the polarizing Warner Bros. film. A theater employee confirmed the information for THR when when inquired as to why advance tickets were not available.

Families of the victims of the 2012 mass shooting, which left 12 dead and 70 injured, reached out to Warner Bros. with a signed letter expressing their concerns with the film, which tells the violent backstory of one of DC’s deadliest villains. The letter does not call on the film to be pulled from theaters, but asks for Warner Bros. to consider donating to groups that advocate for victims of gun violence. “We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe,” a portion of the letter reads. The decision to pull the film from the theater was mutually agreed upon by both the studio and Cinemark.

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UPDATE (4:32 P.M.): Warner Bros. has released a statement addressing the controversy (via Deadline), saying that gun violence is a “critical issue,” but that it stands by the film. “Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues,” it reads. “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.”

That may be so, but the U.S. Military still has reservations. Per iO9, military officials warned service members about the potential for mass shootings at screenings of the film in a September 18 email. Their concern stems from a bulletin posted by the FBI, who reportedly uncovered concerning social media posts from those in the extremist incel community. Incels, a term adopted by those who consider themselves “involuntary celibate” due to women wanting nothing to do with them, have emerged as a particularly toxic band of misogynists, especially in the wake of the 2014 Isla Vista killings, which were carried out by self-described incel Elliot Rodger. That said, the message was purely precautionary, as there are “no known specific threats.”

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“Posts on social media have made reference to involuntary celibate (‘incel’) extremists replicating the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at screenings of the Joker movie at nationwide theaters,” reads the email. “This presents a potential risk to DOD personnel and family members, though there are no known specific credible threats to the opening of the Joker on 4 October.” The email then encourages those who see the movie to identify escape routes and “remember the phrase ‘run, hide, fight.’”

Read the email in full (via iO9) below:

Team,

Posts on social media have made reference to involuntary celibate (“incel”) extremists replicating the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at screenings of the Joker movie at nationwide theaters. This presents a potential risk to DOD personnel and family members, though there are no known specific credible threats to the opening of the Joker on 4 October.

Incels are individuals who express frustration from perceived disadvantages to starting intimate relationships. Incel extremists idolize violent individuals like the Aurora movie theater shooter. They also idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against his bullies.

When entering theaters, identify two escape routes, remain aware of your surroundings, and remember the phrase “run, hide, fight.” Run if you can. If you’re stuck, hide (also referred to as “sheltering in place”), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can.

** this is a condensed version of an HQ Army Materiel Command, G-3, Protection Division Security message **

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.