Warner Bros. has made it official: Joaquin Phoenix has finalized a deal to play The Joker in a new origin film from director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, War Dogs) and executive producer Martin Scorsese.
The film is co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver (8 Mile). The studio describes their script as an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale,” according to Variety.
As such, the film is meant to be darker and more experimental in tone and content than previous DC comic book films, Variety adds. It also boasts a modest $55 million price tag, which is significantly lower than most other tentpole flicks in the genre.
If successful, the film could launch a new imprint of DC Films potentially called “DC Dark” or “DC Black” to separate certain features from the main DCEU interconnected stories, which adopt a lighter tone. A second Joker film centered on Jared Leto’s version of the character from Suicide Squad is also said to be in the works and would fall into the latter category.
Production on Phoenix’s Joker film is scheduled to begin in New York this September. A release date has not yet been set, but there’s a chance it could be released in late 2019, Variety reports.