Oct 6, 2019

"Joker" rakes in $93.5 million on opening weekend despite security concerns

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Warner Bros.' "Joker" topped the October opening-weekend box office record, bringing in $93.5 million despite security concerns over the film's violent themes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: The film received stellar praise during its film festival debuts but sparked a backlash from some critics over whether its portrayal of the Batman series' villain — an outcast with a neurological deficit who becomes a mass murderer — could inspire violence. Most notably, families of the victims of the 2012 shooting at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado — another Batman film — penned a letter to the studio citing concerns about the film.

  • "Joker" will not be shown at the Aurora theater. Movie theaters throughout the nation have heightened their security measures, with the New York Police Department deploying undercover officers at screenings in the city.
  • The FBI also said it was monitoring online activity in response to the film and has encouraged citizens "to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to law enforcement,” according to a spokesperson.

What they're saying: "Neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind," Warner Bros. wrote in a statement obtained by WSJ.

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Hollywood's cave to China on censorship

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While the U.S. reckons with the fact that China's market power can stymie free speech after the NBA's firestorm, Hollywood — America's premier cultural exporter —  has long willingly bent to Chinese censorship to rake in profits.

Why it matters: China is set to become the world's biggest movie market in 2020, and with its 1.4 billion citizens, it won't relinquish that title anytime soon. That means it's key for Hollywood studios to do all they can to ensure that their tentpoles can pass the standards of the country's strict censors.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

"Meet the Press" meets the future

Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Over the past 5 years, the 72-year-old "Meet the Press" brand has evolved from an hour-long Sunday broadcast into a political franchise that touches everything from daily podcasts to newsletters and even films.

The big picture: The mission of NBC News' flagship Sunday program has never been clearer, but the transformation of the media industry around it has forced American's longest-running TV program to rethink its strategy for a new generation.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

White House says Trump condemns fake video attacking media

Trump holds a press conference at Trump National Doral. Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted on Monday that President Trump has not yet seen the violent fake video played at an event for his supporters, but that he "strongly condemns" it. Trump himself has not tweeted about the video or issued a statement.

Background: The video, first reported by the New York Times, is an edited clip from the film "Kingsman: The Secret Service," that shows Trump stabbing and shooting media outlets and political opponents in the "Church of Fake News." The group that put on the event, American Priority, confirmed to the Times that the video was shown at a conference at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.

Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019