A ‘Joker’ Sequel Is In the Works, And Director Todd Phillips Is Mulling More DC Origin Movies

Phillips is pocketing more than $100 million from “Joker”alone, after he deferred his salary for a slice of the box office take.

Joker Joaquin Phoenix Promo
Warner Bros.

Joker, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, is by any measure a runaway cinematic success. That means a couple of things: Warner Brothers is taking a new look at other DC stories for similar treatment, and Todd Phillips is making bank like crazy.

Phillips, 48, reportedly took a gamble with Joker: According to The Hollywood Reporter, he decided to forego his upfront salary for a box office cut.

Warner Bros.

More from THR on just how smart that was:

Joker marks the fourth DC title to cross $1 billion, following in the footsteps of 2018’s Aquaman ($1.15 billion), 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion) and 2008’s The Dark Knight ($1 billion).

But its $60 million budget is far less than those previous films, so it is almost assured of generating profits of more than $500 million (Warners has a 50 percent stake, while Village Roadshow and Bron Studios each have 25 percent).

The unexpected bounty also is generating a huge payday for Phillips, 48. Sources say the director will earn close to $100 million when the dust has settled (he deferred his upfront salary in exchange for a bigger slice of the adjusted gross).

In fact, the deal is similar to one he struck with Warners before the first Hangover movie, which went on to earn a surprise $467.5 million worldwide in 2009 off a $35 million budget (the trilogy took in $1.42 billion).

The question remains as to what Phillips might tackle next in the DC realm. THR reports he “won’t be exploring Batman’s backstory,” since Matt Reeves is making The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson. 

THR further reports that Phillips proposed making even more DC Origin movies–and presumably getting even more unbelievably rich in the process–in the wake of Joker‘s insanely good box office.

On Oct. 7, Joker director Todd Phillips headed into Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich’s office, buoyed by the film’s $96.2 million opening-weekend haul. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter he proposed an outsized idea — the rights to develop a portfolio of DC characters’ origin stories.

We humbly suggest that Lex Luthor, Superman’s nemesis, is an origin story from hell just ripe for the picking if Phillips is up for it. 

Now, thanks to Joker‘s billion-dollar success, he’s certainly got the luxury of choosing whatever he wants.