The Federal Bureau of Investigations isn't taking any chances when it comes to Joker's theatrical release this weekend. The Todd Phillips adaptation of the DC Comics villain's origin story has been at the center of debate for months, with some arguing that it may influence certain viewers into committing acts of public violence. The FBI outright confirmed via a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that it is keeping a close eye on social media posts regarding the film in case any red flags pop up during the its first nationwide screenings on Thursday night.
"While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is in touch with our law enforcement and private sector partners about the online posts," the statement read. "As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to law enforcement."
On top of that statement, ABC News reported on Thursday that the FBI had been receiving tips of "unspecific mass shootings" linked to the release of the film since May. The outlet obtained a joint intelligence bulletin regarding the threats, though no specific details were given.
Joaquin Phoenix, who stars as Arthur Fleck/Joker in the film, stormed out of an interview with The Telegraph back in late September when asked about the possibility of the film influence acts of violence, such as mass shootings. Meanwhile Phillips stated flat-out in an interview in early September that the film is not meant to be seen as "political."
"I think movies are oftentimes mirrors of society, but they're never molders," Phillips said after the film's premiere in Venice. "So even though the movie takes place in late '70s, early '80s, we wrote it in 2017. So inevitably, certain themes find their way into the movie that may exist now. And not everybody sees that, some people just see it as a new take on a Joker origin story. So you hate to define it for people, what it is, and it's certainly not a political film. I mean, for some people. It just really depends, I think, on the lens at which you view it through."
As of Thursday afternoon the film's Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 69 percent, which puts it in the "Fresh" category. The film's box office predictions seem to by a mystery, as the latest reports have it ranging from $50 million to $100 million in its opening weekend.