Despite a major report that surfaced yesterday morning, it appears that Joker 2 is far from a done deal. Joker director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have been talking about the idea of a sequel on and off the entire press run for the film, coming around to the notion of continuing the story—as long as the sequel could be as thematically rich and character-centric as the first movie. Phoenix even made his own posters for a Joker 2 during filming, so it sounds like the actor was keen on reprising his stunning role.
So it wasn’t shocking when yesterday, THR reported that Phillips was in talks to co-write and direct Joker 2 and that Phoenix was under contract option for the follow-up. Moreover, THR said that after the weekend that Joker opened to huge numbers at the box office, Phillips met with WB head Toby Emmerich and asked to take control of a handful of DC characters to make more Joker-esque gritty origin stories, coming away with the rights to at least one.
Shortly after the THR report surfaced (and it should be noted that THR’s reporting is almost always right on point, so we took it at face value), fellow trades Deadline and Variety disputed THR’s reporting, citing their own sources who said Joker 2 was far from a done deal. It was tough to suss out exactly what was going on, and now Phillips is speaking out himself to clear the air.
Speaking with Indiewire, Phillips says the meeting that was reported in THR never happened:
“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 says he did pitch the idea of starting a “DC Black” label when he pitched Joker, but WB shot that down before Joker was even greenlit. Phillips says he’s flummoxed how the notion of that “meeting” came to be in the first place, and maintains that while he and Phoenix have been talking about a sequel “since week two of shooting,” no deals are in place for them to return for another film:
“Here’s the real truth about a sequel. 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.”
Now, this doesn’t mean Joker 2 won’t happen, it just means that talks have been preliminary at best. Joker wasn’t created to start a franchise, so despite THR’s report yesterday, it’s unclear if options are even in place for Phillips and Phoenix to return. If they aren’t, negotiations may take quite a while, but also could result in pretty huge paydays to get Philips and Phoenix back. And given that Joker is the highest-grossing R-rated film in history, cresting $1 billion, Warner Bros. absolutely wants them back.
So stay tuned, folks. Joker 2 ain’t official just yet, but it’s probably a foregone conclusion.