The never-ending story of the potential “Joker” sequel hit a confusing high November 20 after The Hollywood Report and Deadline published conflicting reports on the topic. THR reported Warner Bros. was moving forward with a “Joker” sequel and mentioned that director Todd Phillips had an October 7 meeting with studio chairman Toby Emmerich to ask for the “rights to develop a portfolio of DC characters’ origin stories.” Deadline disputed the October 7 meeting ever happened, while reporting that no “Joker” deals were in place with Phillips and his star Joaquin Phoenix. Phillips sat down with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn following the latest “Joker” sequel reports and was open about clearing up the truth behind the rumors.
As for the October 7 meeting where he allegedly pitched Warner Bros. on making additional DC origin stories akin to “Joker,” Phillips disputes THR’s reporting and says the writer “jumped the gun.”
“I can honestly say to you there was no meeting that ever happened on October 7 where I marched in,” Phillips said. “First of all, if you know me and my career, that’s not my style. I made a huge comedy at Warner Bros., ‘The Hangover,’ and I didn’t suddenly become a comedy factory producer, like, oh, let’s just churn out movies. Bradley [Cooper] and I have a production company at Warners. I’ve been at Warners for 15, 16 years. We have two things in development at all times, not 40 things like some people. I’m not the kind of guy who goes marching in saying I want these 40 titles. I just don’t have the energy.”
Phillips only pitched Warner Bros. on doing a series of darker, more character-focused comic book films at the start of his “Joker” journey. “When I pitched them ‘Joker,’ it wasn’t a movie, it was, let’s do a whole label,” Phillips said. “They shut that down quickly and I get it. Who am I to walk in and start a label at a film studio? But they said, let’s do this one.”
As for the status of the “Joker” sequel, Phillips maintains there are no deals in place nor is there a script being developed at this time. That doesn’t mean a “Joker” sequel is off the table. The film has grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office and is both the highest-grossing R-rated film in history (unadjusted for inflation) and the most profitable comic book film ever released. “Joker” sequel talks are happening as they would on any financially successful comic book film, but that’s it as of November 21.
“Well, a movie doesn’t make a billion dollars and they don’t talk about a sequel,” Phillips said. “Joaquin and I have publicly said we’ve been talking about a sequel since week two of shooting because it’s a fun thing to talk about. But the [THR] article was referring to other things than that that were just frankly untrue. I don’t know how it gets started, if it’s some assistant trying to gain street cred with a writer.”
Phillips declined to talk about one part of THR’s report which claimed he would be earning close to $100 million off ‘Joker” because “he deferred his upfront salary in exchange for a bigger slice of the adjusted gross.”
“Here’s the real truth about a sequel,” Phillips said. “While Joaquin and I have talked about it, and while touring the world with Warner Bros executives — going to Toronto, and Venice, and other places — of course, we’re sitting at dinner and they’re saying, ‘So, have you thought about…?’ But, talking about contracts, there’s not a contract for us to even write a sequel, we’ve never approached Joaquin to be in a sequel. Will that happen? Again, I just think the article was anticipatory at best.”
“Joker” is now playing in theaters nationwide.