'Joker' isn't scaring off moviegoers as FBI monitors online threats

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. (Photo: Everett Collection)

Joker is breaking box office records — controversy and all.

The R-rated film grossed $13.3 million Thursday, breaking the record for an October preview previously set by Venom. It's a good omen for Warner Bros. that moviegoers won't be deterred by a wave of unflattering press surrounding the film. Critics have debated whether Joker sends a "dangerous" message humanizing the Batman villain, and there has been heightened security concerns surrounding the film's release. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security shared a Joint Intelligence Bulletin with police this week warning of potential threats. One theater in Huntington Beach, Calif., even closed late Thursday after a threat was reported to police, authorities confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment.

A spokesperson for the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) said they "received information about a possible threat to the Century Theater located at the Bella Terra shopping center in Huntington Beach. The threat was in response to the opening of the movie Joker." The HBPD "deemed the threat was credible enough to provide a uniformed presence at the theater." The final two showings of the movie were canceled "out of an abundance of caution." It was determined the theater could safely reopen Friday and resume normal operation.

CNN obtained the bulletin that federal authorities shared stating the FBI has no information leading to "specific or credible threats to particular locations or venues," but noted the bureau has received tips of threats posted on social media since at least May. The threats purportedly reference the 2012 Aurora shooting that left 12 dead and 70 injured during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

"The FBI, DHS, and (National Counterterrorism Center) remain concerned that the volume of threatening language may lead to lone offender violence," the bulletin said. Similar to the warning issued by the U.S. military, it warns of threats from the involuntary celibate ("incel") community, as well as a subset of that community that refers to themselves as "clowncels." The FBI stated in the bulletin that incels are responsible for killing at least 27 people since 2014 in the United States and Canada.

The Washington Post reports Warner Bros. is working with law enforcement in New York City to dispatch uniformed and undercover police officers to screenings. A studio spokesperson declined to comment for this piece.

The NYPD told Yahoo Entertainment in a statement, "There are no specific or credible threats at this time and these events will continue to be closely monitored. Any additional personnel will be deployed as needed. Members of the public are encouraged to help police in the shared responsibility of public safety. If you see something, say something by calling 911."

Buzz on social media Friday isn't about security concerns or controversy — but about how great Joker and its star, Joaquin Phoenix, are.

Even Mark Hamill approves.

It's likely a relief for the studio, Phoenix and director Todd Phillips who have said they are ready to let Joker speak for itself.

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