A group comprised of family members and friends of those who died in 2012’s mass shooting at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater have come together to author a letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff over concerns about the studio’s upcoming Joker film.
This is the full text of the letter (via Variety):
”Dear Ann Sarnoff,
We are the family members and friends of the 12 people killed at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. This tragic event, perpetrated by a socially isolated individual who felt ‘wronged’ by society has changed the course of our lives.
As a result, we have committed ourselves to ensuring that no other family ever has to go through the absolute hell we have experienced and the pain we continue to live with. Trust us, it does not go away.
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.
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.
Over the last several weeks, large American employers from Walmart to CVS have announced that they are going to lean into gun safety. We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe.”
Among those who signed the letter were Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed; Theresa Hoover, whose 18-year-old daughter Alexander J. Boik was killed; Heather Dearman, whose cousin Ashley Moser, lost an unborn child and a 6-year-old daughter in the shooting; and Tiina Coon, whose son was a witness to the attack.
The letter was penned alongside Guns Down America, a gun control advocacy group. Guns Down America Executive Director Igor Volsky clarified the letter’s position, reiterating the group and signers of the letter do not want Joker pulled from release, nor do they believe the film will directly influence violent behavior.
“It is really an effort to identify powerful actors and powerful voices and urge them to be part of this movement,” Volsky explained. “I generally follow the science on this stuff and the science has repeatedly found no link between violent movies and real world violent crime. That’s the reality of the situation. The real issue isn’t violence in what Hollywood makes. It’s that it’s incredibly easy to obtain firearms in America.”
Joker is scheduled for an October 4 theatrical release.