Joker was received with an eight-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival Saturday.

According to Variety, stars Joaquin Phoenix and Zazie Beetz were in attendance, as well as director Todd Phillips. Robert De Niro, however, was not able to make the trip.

The weekend also featured two completely packed press screenings, the second of which received tremendous applause. Phoenix’s performance, in particular, is generating major awards buzz.

“Why can’t you do a genre comic-book film like that?” Phillips said of his brooding, R-rated character study, an admitted hard sell for studio Warner Bros. “We thought this could be an exciting approach to this genre. I’m not sure what it means for DC or Marvel … It was a hard movie for us to get made, to convince DC and the studio at first, but we thought we would keep pushing because we thought it would be special.”

Joaquin Phoenix Joker Movie
Joaquin Phoenix Joker Movie

Joker will serve as an independent origin story for the Caped Crusader’s arch-nemesis, meaning it will not connect with the DC Extended Universe, or feature an appearance by Batman. Phillips is hoping that WarnerMedia and DC will allow other directors to take more creative and independent approaches towards their characters in the future. While the studio is hesitant towards the idea at the moment, Joker‘s impending success could change its mind.

Joker on Saturday premiered on Rotten Tomatoes, where the film boasts a critics’ consensus of 88% with 33 reviews counted.

Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. The film arrives in theaters Oct. 4.

‘The Conjuring 3’ Director Reveals Creepy New Logo