Joker Was The UK’s Most Complained About Film Last Year

by : Emily Brown on : 27 Jul 2020 18:01
Joker Was The UK's Most Complained About Film Last YearWarner Bros.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker was a hit with fans, but its controversial content also ruffled a few feathers, as the film became the most complained-about movie of 2019.

I’m not sure it’s a title director Todd Phillips would want on his mantelpiece, but then again at least he knows his film made viewers feel something, which is surely a win no matter what the reaction.


Joker was released in October 2019 and went on to become the first R-rated movie in history to break the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office.

Joaquin Phoenix BAFTAsPA Images

Within days of its release, the film made it into IMDb’s top 10 films of all time, and Phoenix was widely praised for his dramatic, emotive and heart-wrenching performance as the Clown Prince of Crime.

Joker follows the story of Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian whose deteriorating mental health leads him to commit acts of violence and reign terror on Gotham City. The film is harrowing, to say the least, and was given an age rating of 15 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Joker Becomes First R-Rated Movie In History To Make $1 BillionWarner Bros.

Teens and adults flocked to the cinema to watch the highly anticipated film. However, after viewing, a number of people expressed their beliefs that 15 wasn’t a suitable age rating for the events of Joker. Some cinema-goers claimed an 18 rating would have been more appropriate, while others felt the film was too extreme to ever be seen again.

In an annual report cited by Den of Geek, the BBFC revealed it received a total of 149 complaints about 70 different films in 2019; fewer than half the number of complaints received the previous year.

Of those 149 complaints, 20 were about Joker’s age rating.

Joker StairsWarner Bros.

The organisation explained:

Several stated that we should have classified the film 18 because of violence and the film’s tone. A small number felt that the film should be banned.

The BBFC went on to defend its decision to rate Joker as a 15, saying:


There are scenes of strong violence in the film that include stabbings and shootings, with accompanying bloody injury detail. They do not, however, dwell on the infliction of pain or injury in a manner that requires an 18.

Other films which came under fire last year included The Favourite, with people critical of the use of language, sex references and sex, as well as John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum for its use of violence.

John Wick 3 NetflixLionsgate

It would be interesting to see whether the people who made these complaints would still stand by them today, when new film releases are scarce as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Joker might have resulted in some ruffled feathers, but I’m sure a new, provocative film would be met with more enthusiasm than another repeated episode of Friends.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV, Joaquin Phoenix, Joker, Now


Den of Geek
  1. Den of Geek

    Joker Movie Leads Complaint List in New BBFC Report