The studio's home distribution unit confirmed that Batman: The Killing Joke would be the second time the caped crusader received the rating, following Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros. previously confirmed that Snyder's extended Blu-ray edition of the film would come with an R-rating for added scenes of intense violence.
Sam Register, president of Warner Bros. Animation, told Entertainment Weekly that from the beginning of the project, they encouraged producer Bruce Timm to stay as loyal to the source material as they could, regardless of rating. The Killing Joke, often regarded by many as a misogynistic comic, is one of the most controversial. While many argue that the torturing of Batgirl wasn't needed and unjustified, others view the comic as the undisputed, definitive Joker story.
Register said that in order to appeal to their audience, "the comics-loving community," it was important that they capture all of the shocking scenes in the book. The R-rating, he added, let them do so without having to worry about holding back.
The film, which stars Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their respective roles as Batman and Joker, will make its debut at San Diego Comic-Con this July. It will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms later this year.