24/09/2019 18:49 BST | Updated 27/09/2019 15:14 BST

Aurora Theater Where Shooting Happened Won't Be Screening 'Joker'

Some family members of the victims are also calling on Warner Bros. to support gun control measures.

When the new “Joker” movie opens nationwide on Oct. 4, at least one theater won’t be screening it: Century Aurora and XD, formerly Aurora Century 16, in Aurora, Colorado.

In 2012, a gunman opened fire at the Century 16 during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” which, like “Joker,” is part of the Batman franchise. The shooter murdered 12 people and injured 70 more.

Even though early rumors that the gunman identified himself as the Joker turned out to be “completely unfounded,” the concern that screening a film featuring the character might invite more violence kept it off the screen there.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File
In this July 27, 2012, file photo, crosses honor of the victims of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting. The gunman was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The theater did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but a box office employee confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the film won’t be playing at the remodeled venue. 

Separately, a group of family members and friends of the victims sent an open letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff on Monday, asking the entertainment company to use this moment to speak out in support of gun control measures.

“When we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called ‘Joker’ that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause,” the letter reads.

“We want to be clear that we support your right to free speech and free expression. But as anyone who has ever seen a comic book movie can tell you: with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why we’re calling on you to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.”

Rick Wilking / Reuters
Relatives of victims of gun violence listen at an event marking the one-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shootings.

The family members specifically urged Warner Bros. to cease offering financial support to political candidates who receive contributions from the National Rifle Association. It also called on the company to actively lobby for gun reform in Congress and contribute to funds for survivors of gun violence and gun violence intervention programs.

In an emailed statement to HuffPost, Warner Bros. defended its record on gun violence, citing donations to victims of violence and saying the company supports bipartisan legislation to address the gun violence “epidemic.”

“At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues,” the statement added. “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.” 

This story has been updated with comment from Warner Bros.