“Joker” has been hit with a new round of backlash following its record-breaking $96 million debut at the October box office. As reported by CNBC, the film’s use of Gary Glitter’s 1972 anthem “Rock and Roll Part 2” is courting controversy because Glitter is a convicted pedophile. Glitter began a 16-year prison sentence in 2015 for attempted rape, indecent assault, and having sex with a girl under the age of 13 years old. Glitter’s crimes were committed in the 1970s and 1980s. The rock singer was previously jailed in 1999 for possessing images of child abuse.
CNBC journalist Sam Meredith reports, “Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, is reportedly expected to receive a lump sum for allowing the recording to be used in ‘Joker.’ He is also thought to be in line for music royalties depending on the success of movie theater ticket sales, DVD sales and film soundtrack sales.’
Glitter’s song “Rock and Roll Part 2” is featured prominently during one of the movie’s most defining sequences. Joaquin Phoenix’s character Arthur Fleck has dressed completely in his Joker costume and makeup and heads out for an interview on the talk show of Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Joker vigorously dances down the long steps near his apartment in Gotham City as “Rock and Roll Part 2” blasts on the soundtrack. The image of Phoenix dancing on the steps was used heavily in Warner Bros.’ marketing campaign (including an official poster), but “Rock and Roll Part 2” was not heard until the movie’s theatrical release.
With its $96 million debut, “Joker” has claimed the record for biggest October debut in box office history. The movie cleared the $248 million mark worldwide following its first weekend in theaters around the world, setting the movie up to a big hit for Warner Bros. The movie’s production budget is estimated in the $65 million range.
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Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” was included on his album “Glitter.” The song is most commonly associated with sporting events. The song was the only one from Glitter that charted in the U.S. in the top 10 charts.
IndieWire has reached out to Warner Bros. for further comment. “Joker” is now playing in theaters nationwide.