Joaquin Phoenix plays the Joker in Todd Phillips’ movie “J
Even with safety concerns, “Joker” broke the October domestic box office record with $96 million last weekend.
This release has made history for being the highest-grossing opening film in October. The previous record was Sony’s “Venom” with $80 million in October 2018. “Joker” has been Warner Bros.’ biggest release in 2019, and worldwide it has made $248 million.
However, what is impressive is how it did so well even with the violence concerns of many potential movie goers. University of Rhode Island senior Sarah Angeloni said that although she was not particularly interested in seeing “Joker” she didn’t try to make any plans due to the uncertainty of safety.
“I didn’t make any effort to make plans to see it because of all the controversy going around about it,” Angeloni said. “There were threats of shootings and notably there was higher security at this film than normal. I felt like there was too much of a risk factor going to see it on opening day due to those threats. I didn’t want to take that risk.”
The New York City Police Department took extra precautions to ensure those
who just wanted to have a good time seeing Joaquin Phoenix play Arthur Fleck’s alter-ego
during its opening weekend felt safe. Police officers were placed outside of movie theaters to ensure safety. However, undercover officers were also placed inside movie theaters to make sure nothing broke out once in the theater.
Prior to the release of “Joker,” the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement agencies about possible mass shootings threats at the movie’s showings. They particularly noted to pay attention to any signs or notes of threats that appeared on social media.
Warner Bros. issued a statement on Sept. 24, over a week before “Joker’s” official release date, extending their deepest sympathy to all victims and families affected by these tragedies. The company also noted that they had no negative intentions associated with the film’s release.
“Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. 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,” the company said in a statement.
Aside from potential threats posted online, the concern of the possibility of shootings during opening weekend spouted from the July 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado at a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
While no mass shootings were reported, some theaters experienced false reports of shootings such as a theater in Long Beach, California as stated by the Independent. There were also reports of two men being arrested after smoking and causing a disturbance in a Chicago theater as reported by WGN9.
However, many people were pleased with the film. Rotten Tomatoes rated the film with a 69 percent and reported an audience rating of 90 percent.