The BBFC has explained why Joker didn’t get an 18 certificate in the UK

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The first trailer for Joker was cut to get a softer rating, but the film itself earned a 15 with no cuts.

Still riding high at the top of the box office is Todd Phillips’ Joker movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. The movie earned a 15 certificate in the UK, although the BBFC has admitted on its Twitter feed that it’s had a lot of comments and questions about that rating, and why it was awarded.

As such, it’s gone into some detail on its website, where it’s published a full case study on its decision.

There’s some really interesting stuff in there too. For starters, it turns out that the original trailer for the movie had to be cut to get a 12A certificate. That the trailer was submitted by Warner Bros back in March 2019, with the studio requesting a 12A certificate. The BBFC’s compliance officers argued that “There is an unsettling and dark tone throughout, and there are certain shots which would be uncomfortable at the 12A category”. Warner Bros was given a cuts list to get a 12A for the trailer, and the studio made said cuts.

Of particular concern was a scene “in which Fleck smashes his head into a mirror and another in which he is hit by a car”. That scene’s inclusion in the second trailer led to it being classified 15.

The completed film was then submitted to the BBFC at the start of July, but it looks like there was never any real chance of it getting a harder 18 certificate. “The viewing notes stated that the film was permissible at the requested 15, with the main issue some strong and occasionally bloody violence”, the BBFC noted.

Had Joker dwelled heavily on the injuries suffered as a consequence of the violence in the film, that’s what would have pushed it towards an 18 certificate. But it didn’t, and thus it was a clear 15 that was awarded.

No cuts were made to the film for it to get that rating, and you can read the BBFC’s full case study on the movie here.

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