The Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing right now, giving American movie stars a chance to be repeatedly apologized to by random strangers, and sample Tim Horton’s hot coffee-like brown liquid. Unfortunately, one film at the festival this year will be limited to just one screening. We’re talking about The People’s Joker

Directed by Vera Drew, the “unauthorized” transgender coming-out story, which happens to be set in Gotham City, follows an “aspiring clown grappling with gender identity.” The People’s Joker premiered at TIFF on Tuesday night as part of their Midnight Madness series and has been heralded by those who got to see it as both “daring and ambitious” and an “instant queer classic.”

But unfortunately, things have taken a metaphorical dip into a vat of toxic chemicals; all subsequent screenings of the film have now been canceled, reportedly because the “filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues.” This is weird since the movie is clearly a parody and presumably, legally protected as such. Reportedly, Tuesday’s screening opened with a lengthy title card outlining this fact, specifying that it is “protected by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976,” also known as the “Fair Use Doctrine.”

While Warner Bros. has yet to comment on the situation, rumors that the filmmakers received a cease-and-desist letter from the corporation were shared by Drew on Twitter, giving further credence to that line of speculation. 

Which … sucks? Look, it’s bad enough that Warner Bros. torpedoed their own Batman-adjacent movie, but the unconfirmed possibility that the same company is attempting to bury a passionate, fan-made parody by a trans director, about the trans experience, would be yet an even worse look for a corporation that apparently has a Mariah Carey-sized wardrobe of terrible looks. Or maybe they’re just glad that this story is distracting from news of the most recent round of mass layoffs. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter

Thumbnail: Haunted Gay Ride Productions 

Get the Cracked Movie Club Newsletter

For movie and TV geeks, the Cracked Movie Club is full of nerdom, trivia and recommendations. Subscribe now!

Forgot Password?