An unauthorised film set in the Batman universe called The People’s Joker has been pulled from Toronto International Film Festival.
The film, which reimagines the character of the Joker through a transgender origin story, had one public screening before the rest were cancelled over “rights issues”.
A message on the TIFF ticketing page reads: “The filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues. We apologise for any inconvenience. Current ticket holders will receive an email from TIFF Customer Relations with information on their purchase.”
A synopsis for the film says it follows “an unfunny aspiring clown who, after years numbing herself with irony and an inhalant called Smylex, grapples with gender identity, first love, and old foes all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City.
“This heartfelt and absolutely bonkers film features the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic!”
FREE THE PEOPLE’S JOKER and vote for us ASAP for the people’s choice award at @TIFF_NET (link below). We’re the only film with “people’s” in the title, so it’s only fair. Also, I only get to wear one of my screening lewks since the film got pulled, so it’s only fair. pic.twitter.com/4JOBGR5VpS
— Vera Drew (@VeraDrew22) September 15, 2022
Warner Bros, who own the characters in the Batman universe, have not yet released a public statement on the matter.
According to IndieWire, a source has claimed that Warner Bros informed the filmmakers of The People’s Joker of “a copyright issue” as the film uses characters including Joker and “a Harlequin a la DC’s Harley Quinn.”
The film was written, directed and edited by Chicago-Born and Los Angeles-based filmmaker Vera Drew, who also stars in the film. It screened on Tuesday (September 13) as part of the Midnight Madness lineup before being withdrawn.