Warner Bros. says the ‘Joker’ team won’t give interviews at its red carpet premiere

Todd Phillips, left, and Joaquin Phoenix
Director Todd Phillips, left, and Joaquin Phoenix will not do interviews at the U.S. premiere of “Joker.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

After facing weeks of scrutiny over the violence in “Joker,” Warner Bros. has decided to prohibit journalists from the red carpet at the film’s U.S. premiere.

A day before the event, which will be held Saturday at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, the studio said that only photographers would be allowed to interact with the filmmakers and cast on the carpet.

“A lot has been said about ‘Joker,’ and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson confirmed to The Times. (The news was first reported by Variety.)


LAPD’s announcement comes after both the FBI and the U.S. Army issued internal warnings that were shared publicly about possible threats related to the movie that surfaced online. The warnings were later shared publicly.

Journalists are still invited to the screening and after-party Saturday, though many have, in fact, seen the Todd Phillips movie already. “Joker” debuted at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, where it won the top prize, the Golden Lion, and was then screened days later at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In “Joker,” Joaquin Phoenix stars as the iconic DC Comics character in an origin story that explores how a mentally ill clown is driven to violence after being oft-mocked by the residents of Gotham. The plot has raised questions about whether viewers — mistakenly viewing the character as a hero — might be inspired to commit violence in his name.

Last weekend, the “Joker” team participated in a press junket to promote the movie in which they fielded numerous questions about the film’s themes.

“I don’t think it’s the filmmaker’s responsibility to teach morality,” Phoenix told the Associated Press. “And if you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, then there’s all sorts of things that you are going to interpret in the way that you want.”

“What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye-opening for me,” Phillips added in an interview with the Wrap. “Isn’t it good to have these discussions about these movies, about violence? Why is that a bad thing if the movie does lead to a discourse about it?”

Warner Bros. has taken a similar stance, noting in a Sept. 24 statement 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.”

“Joker” offers a new take on the Batman villain, with Joaquin Phoenix in title role.

The studio’s comment came in response to an open letter sent by the families of the victims of the Aurora, Colo., shooting in which the studio was asked to use its platform — and deep pockets — to take a stand on gun violence.

“Joker” will begin playing in theaters late Oct. 3, and the Los Angeles Police Department said it will “maintain high visibility” around the opening.

“The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of ‘Joker,’ ” the LAPD said in a statement. “While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the department will maintain high visibility around theaters when it opens.”