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Aurora survivors urge 'Joker' studio to support gun control

Joaquín Phoenix appears the title Batman villain in

Joaquín Phoenix appears the title Batman villain in "Joker," opening in theaters Oct. 4.   Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Niko Tavernise

Alarmed by violence depicted in a trailer for the upcoming movie "Joker," some relatives of victims of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting asked distributor Warner Bros. on Tuesday to commit to gun control causes.

Sandy Phillips' daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was one of 12 people killed in the suburban Denver theater during a midnight showing of the Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," also distributed by Warner Bros.

Phillips said she and four other people who lost loved ones in Aurora sent a letter to Warner on Tuesday, asking the studio to lobby Congress for gun control, support survivor programs and end any contributions to politicians backed by the National Rifle Association.

"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."

Warner issued a statement later Tuesday saying it has always supported victims of gun violence and calling on policymakers to enact bipartisan legislation to address what it called an epidemic.

Phillips says she was compelled to act after seeing a trailer for "Joker," the name of the Batman villain portrayed by Joaquín Phoenix in the film being released Oct. 4.

"My jaw dropped. I went, 'Oh my god.' And that was just the trailer. I was immediately triggered," she said.

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