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The People’s Joker, a “queer coming of age Joker origin tale,” yanked from TIFF lineup

The film was reportedly withdrawn "due to rights issues" after holding one screening

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The People's Joker yanked from TIFF lineup
Vera Drew, director and star of The People’s Joker
Photo: Brian de Rivera Simon (Getty Images)

The Joker has had a lot of iterations over the years, but none quite like Joker the Harlequin, the main character in Vera Drew’s “queer coming of age Joker origin tale,” The Peoples Joker. Unfortunately, the parody is apparently close enough to previous iterations to stir up copyright issues with Warner Bros. and DC, as the film has apparently been removed from the Toronto International Film Festival lineup after just one screening.

“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,” Drew posted to Twitter on Tuesday. “Stay tuned and stay with me. Need ur help.”


The People’s Joker had one showing at TIFF’s Midnight Madness on Tuesday, after which the festival posted a statement that read, “The filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues.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.”

While retweets famously do not necessarily indicate endorsements, Drew retweeted some reactions to the film that suggested the film had been “hit with a cease and desist from WB.” The production had no comment when reached for a statement.

THE PEOPLE’S JOKER - Teaser Trailer

Co-written (with Bri LaRose), directed, and starring Drew, The People’s Joker is about an aspiring comedian grappling with and embracing her gender identity. “With comedy criminalized in Gotham City, the show is the only government-sanctioned space for funny people, but only those who will toe the party line,” reads the TIFF synopsis. “ Disillusioned by a botched audition, Vera partners with a birdlike slacker to found their own alternative comedy troupe, attracting not only a rogues’ gallery of would-be comics, but also the ire of a fascistic caped crusader.” For all the nerds who made sense of their life through comic books, the trippy trailer can be seen above.