In an interview with the entertainment news site The Wrap, the director said: “(I want to do it) in the studio of a comic film, in the studio working environment to shoot a movie that peeks into reality.”

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Editor’s note: At the beginning of October this year, Warner Bros. launched the R-rated movie “The Clown”, which caused a sensation in the world once it was released. At the same time as the box office soared, the voice of opposition continued. With the criticism of “encouraging social atrocities”, “The Clown” won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and is expected to attack the next Oscar. How does Warner respond appropriately in the face of growing social controversy? In the tense moments of disagreement within the project and changes in the management of the company, how can this comic film, known as the “Development of the DC”, seek a balance between bold ventures and risk reduction? This article is translated from The New York Times, by Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling, originally titled “‘Joker’ Is a Risk, but a Calculated One, for Warner Bros.”

Box office word of mouth double harvest

“The Clown” is adapted from DC Comics and tells the story of Batman’s dead-to-head, Joker, how to turn from a lonely comedian into a murderous criminal because of mental illness and social encounters.

The film is expected to receive $80 million in box office in North America and Canada in the first week, but this estimate is clearly too conservative: in fact, in the first week of the film’s release, it only achieved a good result of $93.5 million in North America. As of October 22, the global box office was as high as 737 million US dollars.

After receiving a warm welcome from the market, “The Clown” also received recognition from the art field: at the Venice Film Festival at the end of August this year, it won the Golden Lion Award – this is the highest award of the Venice Film Festival, also Known as one of the highest honors in the film industry. During the same period, the film starring Joaquin Phoenix was also considered highly likely to be nominated for the next Oscar.

The resistance has become more and more fierce. Does Hollywood need “freedom of speech”?

After sweeping the global movie market, the controversy over “The Clown” has intensified from the media to social networking sites.

“Legalizing violence” is one of the biggest controversies in the film.

According to The New York Times, some people, including Warner Bros.’s internal employees, believe that this film full of realistic violence is potentially socially dangerous. They believe that this film is not accusing the social mechanism of failure leading to the proliferation of guns.Like, but in the form of art to “legalize” this behavior, which may trigger more similar violence. The New York Times also said that words like “irresponsibility” reappear in the comments about “The Clown.”

For the above-mentioned potential social problems, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also waiting: they closely track the “Clown” posts on the Internet (especially the dark network), and cooperate with police in New York, Los Angeles, etc. to prevent major problems. A potential shooting incident in the theater. The Alamoku Room Cinema in the United States even bluntly reminded the audience: “The “Clown” is not a comic book in the usual sense”, “The movie is not for the children, and the children will not like it (because there is no Batman).”

In addition, the relatives and friends of the victims of the 2012 Aurora Cinema shooting in Colorado also sent a letter to Warner Bros., indicating that the sympathetic depiction of the clown’s corner is “disturbing” and hopes that the other party can “take the burden” Social responsibility” “improving the problem of the proliferation of guns.”

In this regard, Warner Bros. has made an official response, saying that they “support the company’s freedom of speech” and “satisfied with the role of the clown”, but also stated that “this film and the clown image is not a reality.” “The recognition of any form of violence in the world”, “No matter whether it is a producer or a company, this character in the movie will not be regarded as a hero.”

It can be said that the debate on this film once again pushed the “freedom of speech boundary” to the American people: Can Hollywood use the freedom of speech given by the First Amendment of the US Constitution? Or do you need to take responsibility and reduce the production of such movies?

Warner Brothers’ attitude is that rude bans or simple positive publicity are not solutions. The purpose of the film story is to “push complex social issues to the audience” and “promote public discussion”. “It’s time to let the film itself Come to talk.”

Director: The comic story is just a “scorpion”

Back to the story itself, you can see Warner Bros.’s ambition to break through “political correctness.”

In today’s popular streaming media such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, etc., film companies seem to want to use this challenging story to bring viewers back to the cinema.

For example, in addition to “The Joker”, the “Bold” movie that was on the line during the same period, as well as the black humor film “The Rabbit Mocking Boy” about the Nazi Holocaust, and the drama “The Queen” that reflects police racial discrimination and atrocities With the thin man.

The director of “The Clown”, Todd Phillips, directed many classic comedies for Warner Bros., such as the “Hangover” series and “Single Men’s Club.” He began to conceive “Joker” in 2016. In the early days of character setting, he wanted to set aside the traditional hero movie setting and set the clown as a taxi driver that matched the reality.

Director is accepting entertainment news networkIn the interview with The Wrap, “The (I want to do) is a movie with a comic film, and I will shoot a movie that peeks at the studio.”

And, Phillips also set a new character background for the clown.

The birth of villains in comics is usually “falling into the chemical pool” and then “disfigured + mutated”, but the clown in this movie is a young man with mental illness and brain disability, and finally mental breakdown. As behavior became more violent and his influence gradually expanded, he was regarded as a “leader” by those who felt deprived of their rights. This setting is exactly the same as the murderer of the Aurora cinema shooting.

As a Douban user said in the film’s comment: “Thirty years ago, making a clown needed to advance the chemical pool; 30 years later, making a clown only needed to advance society.” It can be said that the whole movie has nothing to do with superpower. Special effects, but more shocking than the superhero movies in the usual sense, also make some order maintainers more restless.

Screenplay: There have been differences within the company

It is reported that the process of script writing is not smooth.

Warner Brothers formally agreed to make “The Clown” in 2018. However, people familiar with the matter told the New York Times that the heads of the four films had disagreement over whether the version of the film could be approved by the company. Some of Warner’s executives also had a violent element in the story and a tone of indifference. Worried. In addition, they also need to deal with the relationship with Jared Leto, the clown player in Suicide Squad, which was strongly protested by Warner’s role as the protagonist of Phoenix.

Does the setting of the new clown have a spectator?

In today’s heroic movie market, Marvel has a fairly mature routine, and it is easy to produce a high-selling hero story in accordance with established formulas. DC seems to have lost its own superhero style. In 2016, “Batman vs. Superman: Justice Dawn” was also criticized and lost a lot of viewers.

Looking at the past, Warner’s most popular movies are topics that have challenged society and caused great controversy: The 1994 Nasal Killer describes how the media irresponsibly beautifies a couple of murderous couples. The story; The Clockwork Orange, released in 1971, tells how the government used a non-humanitarian experiment to turn a boy who has sexual violence into a disgusting “good man” with no backhand. A number of cruel crimes have been banned for 30 years.

Norman Lear of the University of Southern California, who studies the field of entertainment, said: “The unique perspective, the weird perspective – that’s why we fell in love with the 70s movie. Now some studios want to re-enter this Ways to find unique, eye-catching, and sharp-cut stories.”

The background of “The Clown” was set in Gotham City in the 70s and 80s of the last century. Dirty everywhere in the movieThe subway station, the dilapidated residential building, the gray streets, the hurrying indifferent pedestrians, the piles of rubbish under the gray sky – it seems a necessity to breed a weird and evil character in such an environment.

For such a “dangerous” setting, Warner Bros. finally decided to support it. It is reported that Warner also launched related peripheral products during the release: Wal-Mart has now launched the “Clown” series of pajamas.

Warner: Encourage adventure and reduce risk

After the content was agreed, the release of “The Clown” was again mobilized by Warner Bros. management insiders.

The first is “changing the boss.” Earlier this year, AT&T, a large US telecommunications company, acquired Warner for $85.4 billion. AT&T’s efforts to transform Warner Bros. from traditional cinema filmmakers to “streaming mediators” are new challenges for Warner.

Second is “changed CEO.” In March of this year, Warner’s former CEO resigned due to the scandal, and Warner’s management was in chaos. A few months later, An Shaunoff, president of the American BBC studio, which was called “Hollywood outsider” by foreign media, took over as chairman and CEO of Warner.

Management changes coupled with unsatisfactory box office results in recent months – “Summer Ford”, “Hell Kitchen”, “Clown Back Spirit 2” did not achieve the expected benefits – which made “The Clown” shoulder Enormous pressure.

Thus, while encouraging the film’s creation, Warner also took a number of measures to reduce risk.

These measures are mainly reflected in the economic level.

Before the film began, Warner successfully financed from Bron Studio and Village Roadshow. This co-financing has reduced Warner’s exposure in the media and avoided potential criticism. In addition, Warner also strives to control costs – the production budget for the entire movie is only $55 million.

In addition, because of the sensitive theme, Warner’s promotion of “The Clown” is not smooth.

At a press conference, a British media critics asked Felix sharply whether he would worry that the film “finally encouraged people like ‘clowns and caused tragic consequences.” Felix left the conference site after listening. Critic Robin Colin said it took Warham’s public relations staff an hour to get the conversation back.

In other similar interviews, Felix said to the game media IGN “If someone has an emotional disorder, he can find ‘fuel’ anywhere.”

But in any case, from the market feedback, “Clown” is undoubtedly a successful movie. As to whether the panic caused by it is too radical, and whether the social discussion triggered is constructive, it may only be timed to judge.

Translator: Michiko