The People’s Joker, described as a queer coming-of-age fan film about a trans woman working in comedy that parodies the 2019 Joker movie from director Todd Phillips starring Joaquin Phoenix, has been yanked following premiering at the Toronto Film Festival.
“The filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues. We apologize for any inconvenience. Current ticket holders will receive an email from TIFF Customer Relations with information on their purchase,” states an update on the official TIFF website.
The People’s Joker actually got its start two years ago as the film was crowdfunded on GoFundMe where it raised almost $20k.
“Hi! I’m Emmy nominated filmmaker Vera Drew, and four months ago I announced to the world that I was remixing 2019’s Joker into a queer coming-of-age film about being a trans woman working in comedy,” states Vera Drew on GoFundMe. “I have written a feature length script, set in the Batman universe, with Lady Dynamite’s Bri LeRose that uses clips from Todd Phillip’s Oscar nominated film, footage of Jokers past and movies featuring clowns, as well as additional scenes that I will be shooting with a small crew.”
The film sees Drew star as the titular character, an aspiring clown grappling with gender identity as she aspires to join UCB Live, a popular TV sketch comedy set in the Batman universe (via THR).
Warner Bros. Discovery owns the rights to Batman and the Joker, and while WBD hasn’t made an official statement about pulling The People’s Joker, it’s thought WBD is the reason for the takedown. Joker 2 is also officially underway also starring Lady Gaga.
I have no clue how today goes and my team wants me to say nothing of course so I’ll stay vague…but whatever happens in the next few hours, I want you to know…if you’ve been waiting and aching to watch our movie, ur going to get to soon. Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help pic.twitter.com/RcFIWYsUFi— Vera Drew (@VeraDrew22) September 13, 2022
The People’s Joker said to be a parody
Regarding the validity of the movie, copyright law does allow parody and in a recent interview, Vera Drew did admit there is an “illegal gray zone” where she added, “I, Vera Drew, don’t own Joker and Batman, but it’s a parody” — but apparently Warner Bros. Discovery’s lawyers see things different.
The GoFundMe also adds: “This film has it all… a deep faked Jared Leto as my sh-tty comedian ex boyfriend, a song by one of the greatest Emo bands of all time, Finch, Tim Heidecker portraying someone who is *definitely* not based on Alex Jones, segments by Vic Berger, DataErase, and Everything is Terrible, and of course the world’s first portrayal of the Joker by a trans woman.”
“Joker belongs to the People now. Join our revolution today,” says Vera Drew in the description. “Because comedy… is not a crime.”
Vera Drew adds, “Copyright and trademark infringement is, but look…I aint tryin to fool anybody. This this is not officially under the DC or WB umbrella (yet? call me, guys…this thing will only help your companies) and I am making no profits from this. All funds raise are going right into the project and any left over donations will be donated to bail funds for LGBTQ+ people.”