Joker has stirred a lot of controversy for its take on a disturbed loner graduating to serial killer, only to be elevated to the stature of Gotham's most infamous villain. In fact, that story premise generated big fears that Joker could trigger America's next mass shooting attack. Those fears prompted strong backlash from various advocacy groups, while stirring a public discourse on whether or not a movie (about a comic book villain, at that) should be held accountable for real-life violence. As Joker's opening weekend arrives, one California theater is unfortunately having to deal with a very real threat of attack.
THR reports that the Century Huntington Beach and XD theater in Huntington Beach, California was forced to close Thursday, after it received what police perceived to be a credible threat. Officers came to the scene around 5p.m., and all remaining film showings were stopped after 7 p.m. The nature of the threat has reportedly not yet been made clear, but showings are seemingly set to resume today, with Joker showings still listed throughout the day.
What's especially wild is that THR notes that they've gotten confirmation from the FBI, that they are monitoring the threats surrounding Joker, which just goes one step further to show what kind of massive impact in the zeitgeist this film is having. It's weirdly ironic, as most of what Joker's story revolves around is how Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck taps into a wave of civil unrest and fear that's swelling and growing in Gotham City. Seeing the societal response and fear to Joker's release is ominously in tune with the film's climatic swell - which is why, more than ever, we're hoping that the film's opening weekend is nothing more than normal opening weekend, free of incident, which eventually makes us all look back and wonder what all the fear was really about.
So far, the Huntington Beach theater incident is listed as the only credible threat in the swell of chatter that has sprung up around Joker. The film has already had a big Thursday night opening, beating Venom, which currently holds the record for biggest October opening ever. If the pace (and let's face it, the headline-making "controversies" that are keeping Joker set as the pop-culture fixation of the moment), keeps up, then Warner Bros., director Todd Phillips, and Joaquin Phoenix are going to have a lot to celebrate.
Joker is now in theaters. Upcoming DC Movies include Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.