Update: During a Q&A on Wednesday (Nov. 20th) (via The Playlist), Todd Phillips said reports of a Joker sequel are premature. “I thought it was anticipatory at best,” he explained. “Obviously, sequels have been discussed when a movie that cost $60 million made $1 billion, but we have not had any serious conversations about it.” For now, Phillips says he does not have a signed deal with Warner Bros., nor do writer Scott Silver or Joaquin Phoenix. Phillips also denied THR’s report that he had a meeting with Warner Bros. on October 7th: “It referred to a meeting that was never had.”
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Made on a budget of just $62.5 million, Joker recently became the first R-rated film to gross $1 billion at the worldwide box office, also making it the most profitable comic book movie ever. With those sort of profit margins, of course Warner Bros. would want a sequel. Now, filmmaker Todd Phillips is officially in talks to return to write and direct a follow-up — and he doesn’t want to stop there.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Phillips had a meeting with WB Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich on October 7th, just after Joker’s opening weekend. Phillips came in with a big ask, seeking the rights to “develop a portfolio of DC characters’ origin stories.” Such deals are not WB’s typical m.o., so Emmerich deferred on handing Phillips a package of characters. Still, he did reportedly give Phillips the rights to develop at least one other DC Comics property for another origins-style tale, though it’s not yet known which hero or villain that is.
Before Phillips looks to that, however, WB will surely want him to get cracking on Joker 2. His co-writer from the first film, Scott Silver, will be back to help pen the script. More importantly, star Joaquin Phoenix has an option in place to return for a sequel, something the studio will surely activate given the Oscar buzz around the actor. Phoenix himself has previously expressed interest in putting Arthur Fleck’s makeup on again.
Even without opening in China, Joker has turned into a massive financial boon for everyone involved. Given its relatively small budget, WB and fellow stake holders Village Roadshow and Bron Studios will take their percentage of over $500 million in profits. Phillips, meanwhile, took a larger cut of the adjusted gross instead of an upfront salary, reportedly netting him close to $100 million. Even makers of Joker-related porn saw a boost after the movie’s success. Hopefully those royalties owed to Gary Glitter aren’t too high, though.