Joel Schumacher

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Joel Schumacher
Joel Schumacher.jpg
Schumacher in 2003
Joel T. Schumacher

(1939-08-29) August 29, 1939 (age 80)
Education Parsons The New School for Design
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Years active1972–present

Joel T. Schumacher ( /ˈʃmɑːkər/ ; born August 29, 1939) is an American filmmaker. Schumacher rose to fame after directing three hit films: St. Elmo's Fire (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), and Flatliners (1990). He later went on to direct the John Grisham adaptations The Client (1994) and A Time to Kill (1996). His films Falling Down (1993) and 8mm (1999) competed for Palme d'Or and Golden Bear, respectively.


In 1993, he signed on to direct the next installments of the Batman film series. [1] The Schumacher-directed Batman films Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) received mixed-to-negative reactions from both critics and the public. After the Batman films, Schumacher pulled back from blockbusters and returned to making minimalist films such as Tigerland (2000) and Phone Booth (2002), both earning positive reviews. [2] [3] He also directed The Phantom of the Opera (2004), The Number 23 (2007), and two episodes of House of Cards .

Known for casting young actors, Schumacher helped actors like Colin Farrell, [4] Kiefer Sutherland, [5] and Matthew McConaughey [6] to launch careers.

Early life

Schumacher was born in New York City, the son of Marian (née Kantor) and Francis Schumacher. His mother was a Swedish Jew, whereas his father was a Baptist from Knoxville, Tennessee, who died when Joel was four years old. [7] Schumacher studied at Parsons The New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. [8] After first working in the fashion industry, he realized his true love was in filmmaking. He moved to Los Angeles, where he began his media work as a costume designer in films such as Woody Allen's Sleeper and Interiors and developed his skills with television work while earning an MFA from UCLA.[ citation needed ]

Schumacher's first screenplay was for the musical drama Sparkle in 1976, which Schumacher had developed with Howard Rosenman before moving to Los Angeles. He also wrote the screenplays for the 1976 low-budget hit movie Car Wash , 1978's The Wiz —an adaptation of the stage play of the same name—and a number of other minor successes. His film directorial debut was The Incredible Shrinking Woman in 1981, which starred Lily Tomlin.[ citation needed ]


The Brat Pack

The Brat Pack films St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys were two of Schumacher's biggest hits. Their style impressed audiences and their financial success allowed studios to trust him with ever-larger projects. He states in the director's commentary for St. Elmo's Fire that he resents the "Brat Pack" label, as he feels it misrepresents the group.[ citation needed ]

John Grisham

Schumacher has directed two adaptations of John Grisham's novels: The Client (1994) and A Time to Kill (1996). Grisham personally requested that Schumacher return to direct A Time to Kill.[ citation needed ]


Schumacher replaced Tim Burton as the director of the Batman film franchise when he directed Batman Forever in 1995. Val Kilmer replaced Michael Keaton in the title role. Despite mixed critical reception, the film scored the highest-grossing opening weekend of 1995. It finished as the second-highest-grossing film of the year in North America, and sixth-highest worldwide.

After this success, Warner Bros. hired Schumacher to direct a sequel, Batman & Robin , which was released in 1997. The film did not perform as well at the box office as its predecessors, and was critically panned; it is frequently considered to be one of the worst films ever made. [9] [10] Warner Bros. subsequently put the Batman film series on hiatus for several years, canceling Schumacher's next planned Batman movie, Batman Unchained . [11] On the DVD commentary, Schumacher has admitted that his movie disappointed fans of darker Batman adaptations, saying that the film was made intentionally marketable (or "toyetic") and kid-friendly. He claims to have been under heavy pressure from the studio to do so; however, he admits full responsibility and, at one point, apologized to any fans who were disappointed. Schumacher is a devoted Batman fan himself, and has said he would have preferred to work on an adaptation of the comic Batman: Year One . [12]

Schumacher also served as the director for the music videos of two songs appearing in the franchise: "Kiss from a Rose", by Seal, and "The End Is the Beginning Is the End", by The Smashing Pumpkins, which he co-directed with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Post-Batman career

After back-to-back Grisham and Batman films, Schumacher decided to reinvent his career with darker, lower-budget fare like 8mm with Nicolas Cage, and Flawless with Robert De Niro. 8mm was entered into the 49th Berlin International Film Festival. [13]

In 1999, Schumacher also directed the music video for "Letting the Cables Sleep" by English rock band Bush. In 2000, Schumacher directed the Vietnam-era boot camp drama Tigerland , which introduced Hollywood to a young Colin Farrell. Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film. He wrote: "Tigerland lands squarely in the top tier of best movies about America's Vietnam experience."

Schumacher returned to big-budget Hollywood with Bad Company starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock. The film was originally slated to be released in November 2001, but after the September 11 attacks it was pushed back to the summer of 2002 because of its theme about terrorist attacks in New York City. The film was panned by most critics and was a box office failure. In 2003, he released the controversial Phone Booth , in which he once again worked with Farrell. The film—about an unseen gunman tormenting a publicist—was also delayed for months due to the Beltway sniper attacks. It received generally positive reviews, earning a 71 percent "Fresh" rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. [14] Buoyed by Farrell's recently found fame, the film earned $98.7 million worldwide.

In 2002, he directed Cate Blanchett in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced biopic Veronica Guerin . The film is about the eponymous Irish journalist, who was murdered by drug dealers in 1996.

Schumacher directed a film version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera in 2004, an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's original stage musical. Despite mixed reviews, the film earned $154.6 million worldwide (Schumacher's biggest hit of the 21st century to date) and was nominated for three Academy Awards, as well as three Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Schumacher directed The Number 23 in 2007, which was a critical flop but a moderate financial success. [15] His next project was the vampire thriller Blood Creek , which was filmed in the spring of 2007 in rural Romania. It had a limited release.

In August 2008, Schumacher directed the music video for American rock band Scars on Broadway, for their single "World Long Gone". [16]

In December 2006, Schumacher was attached to direct the film version of The Minds of Billy Milligan . The projected release date was supposed to be in 2008, but any film based on the book wasn't released and its author Daniel Keyes died in 2014. [17] [18]

In October 2011, Schumacher released his latest film, Trespass . The action-thriller reunited Schumacher with stars Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage. [19]

He was next slated to direct the film The Hive (retitled The Call for release), but left the project for an undisclosed reason, replaced by Brad Anderson. [20]

Joel Schumacher is friends with David Fincher, and directed two episodes of the first season of House of Cards , which Fincher produced.

Personal life

Schumacher has been openly gay throughout most of his career. According to Schumacher, this fact has been purposely reflected as a statement in many of his films. [21] Schumacher claims that he has had sex with up to 20,000 men. [22]

When asked by the BBC if he believed in God, Schumacher said:

I'm sort of in that school of that quote from Hamlet . 'There's more in heaven and earth, Horatio.' If you live long enough you will definitely get to understand that the universe is a profound mystery and I didn't create it. We're on this mud ball rolling around and I don't know where we are, and nobody knows where we are. I definitely believe that I'm not the highest form of intelligence in the universe. But I don't like to use the word God because it's so overused in the United States—not so much in Europe—but it's become politicized and has this ugly meaning now. Like asking someone if they believe in God has become an attack—like if you don't believe in Jesus you're not one of us! I loathe the use of God or any kind of spirituality as a form of discrimination or separation because that's a total misuse of it. [23]

Politically, Schumacher donated thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates. [24]



YearTitleCredited asNotes
Director Writer
1976 Sparkle NoYesDirected by Sam O'Steen
Car Wash NoYesDirected by Michael Schultz
1978 The Wiz NoYesDirected by Sidney Lumet
1981 The Incredible Shrinking Woman YesNo Directorial debut
1983 D.C. Cab YesYesa.k.a. Street Fleet
1985 St. Elmo's Fire YesYes
1987 The Lost Boys YesNo
1989 Cousins YesNo
1990 Flatliners YesNo
1991 Dying Young YesNo
1993 Falling Down YesNo
1994 The Client YesNo
1995 Batman Forever YesNo
1996 A Time to Kill YesNo
1997 Batman & Robin YesNo
1999 8mm YesNoAlso producer
Flawless YesYesAlso producer
2000 Tigerland YesNo
2002 Bad Company YesNo
Phone Booth YesNo
2003 Veronica Guerin YesNo
2004 The Phantom of the Opera YesYesAlso executive music producer
2007 The Number 23 YesNo
2009 Blood Creek YesNo
2010 Twelve YesNo
2011Man in the MirrorYesNoShort
Trespass YesNo
Only Executive Producer
1995 The Babysitter Guy Ferland
2000 Gossip Davis Guggenheim


YearTitleCredited asNotes
1974Virginia HillYesNoYesTV Movie
1979Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and GrillYesNoYesTV Movie
1983Now We're Cookin'NoYesYesTV Movie; directed by Noam Pitlik
1985Code Name: FoxfireNoYesStory (Pilot)Creator, 8 episodes
1986 Slow Burn NoYesNoTV Movie; directed by Matthew Chapman
1992 2000 Malibu Road YesYesNo5 episodes (director); 1 episode (producer)
2008Choose or LoseYesNoNoTV Special
2013 House of Cards YesNoNo2 episodes
2015Do Not Disturb: Hotel HorrorsNoYesNoMini-Series, 3 episodes; directed by Mark Marabella

Music videos

1988 INXS Devil Inside
1993 Lenny Kravitz Heaven Help (European Version)
1994 Seal Kiss from a Rose (Version 1)
1997 The Smashing Pumpkins The End is the Beginning is the End
1999 Bush Letting The Cables Sleep
2012The Killing FloorStar Baby

As costume designer

1972 Play It as It Lays Frank Perry
1973 The Last of Sheila Herbert Ross
Blume in Love Paul Mazursky
Sleeper Woody Allen
1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue Neil Simon
1978 Interiors Woody Allen

As production designer

1974 Killer Bees Curtis Harrington TV Movie

As cameo appearances

1998 Welcome to Hollywood HimselfTony Markes and Adam Rifkin Mockumentary
2017 Nightcap HimselfJohnny MilordEpisode 'Guest in a Snake'

Recurring collaborators

Schumacher often casts the same actors in different films. Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, Michael Paul Chan, Nicolas Cage, John Diehl, Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Colin Farrell, and Shea Whigham are among his more frequent acting collaborators.

Harry Gregson-Williams often composes the music for his films and Mark Stevens often serves as editor.

Actors and actresses

Related Research Articles

<i>Batman & Robin</i> (film) 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman directed by Joel Schumacher

Batman & Robin is a 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics characters Batman and Robin. It is the fourth and final installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series, a sequel to Batman Forever and the only film in the series made without the involvement of Tim Burton. Directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Akiva Goldsman, it stars George Clooney replacing Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze, and Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin, alongside Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, and Elle Macpherson. The film follows the titular characters as they attempt to prevent Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from taking over the world, while at the same time struggling to keep their partnership together. It is also to date the only live-action film appearance of Batgirl, portrayed by Silverstone, who helps the titular characters fight the villains.

<i>Batman Forever</i> 1995 American superhero film directed by Joel Schumacher

Batman Forever is a 1995 American superhero film directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by Tim Burton, based on the DC Comics character Batman. A sequel to the 1992 film Batman Returns and the third installment of Warner Bros.'s initial Batman film series, it stars Val Kilmer replacing Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and Batman, alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough, and Pat Hingle. The plot focuses on Batman trying to stop Two-Face and the Riddler in their villainous scheme to extract confidential information from all the minds in Gotham City and use it to learn Batman's identity and bring the city under their control. In the process, he gains allegiance from a young, orphaned circus acrobat named Dick Grayson, who becomes his sidekick Robin, and meets and develops feelings for psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian, which brings him to the point to decide if he will lead a normal life or if he is destined to fight crime as Batman forever.

Nicolas Cage American actor

Nicolas Kim Coppola, known professionally as Nicolas Cage, is an American actor and filmmaker. Cage has been nominated for numerous major cinematic awards, and won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas (1995).

Tim Burton American-British filmmaker

Timothy Walter Burton is an American director, producer, artist, writer, and animator. He is known for his gothic fantasy and horror films such as Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Dark Shadows (2012), and Frankenweenie (2012). He is also known for blockbuster films, such as the adventure-comedy Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), the superhero films Batman (1989) and its first sequel, Batman Returns (1992), the sci-fi film Planet of the Apes (2001), the fantasy-drama Big Fish (2003), the musical adventure film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), the fantasy film Alice in Wonderland (2010), and the film adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016).

Val Kilmer American actor

Val Edward Kilmer is an American actor, musician and artist. Originally a stage actor, Kilmer became popular in the mid-1980s after a string of appearances in comedy films, starting with Top Secret! (1984) and Real Genius (1985), as well as the military action film Top Gun (1986), and the fantasy film Willow (1988).

Colin Farrell Irish actor

Colin James Farrell is an Irish actor. Farrell appeared in the BBC drama Ballykissangel in 1998, made his film debut in the Tim Roth-directed drama The War Zone in 1999, and was discovered by Hollywood when Joel Schumacher cast him as the lead in the war drama Tigerland in 2000. He then played the outlaw Jesse James in the film American Outlaws with a young ensemble cast, with Gabriel Macht as brother Frank as well as Ali Larter, Scott Caan, and Timothy Dalton. He then starred in Schumacher's psychological thriller Phone Booth (2003) where he plays a hostage in a New York city phone booth, and the American thrillers S.W.A.T. (2003) and The Recruit (2003), establishing his international box-office appeal. During that time, he also appeared in Steven Spielberg's science fiction thriller Minority Report (2002) and as the villain Bullseye in the superhero film Daredevil (2003).

Kiefer Sutherland Canadian actor, director, producer, voice actor

Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland is an English–Canadian actor, voice actor, Film producer, director, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for his starring role as Jack Bauer in the Fox drama series 24, for which he won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Satellite Awards. He is the son of Canadian actors Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, grandson of Canadian politician Tommy Douglas and the father of actress Sarah Sutherland.

<i>The Phantom of the Opera</i> (2004 film) 2004 musical film directed by Joel Schumacher

The Phantom of the Opera is a 2004 British–American musical drama film based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the 1910 French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. Produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber and directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, and Jennifer Ellison.

<i>The Lost Boys</i> 1987 American horror comedy film

The Lost Boys is a 1987 American comedy horror film directed by Joel Schumacher, produced by Harvey Bernhard with a screenplay written by Jeffrey Boam. Janice Fischer and James Jeremias wrote the film's story. The film's ensemble cast includes; Corey Haim, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann, Alex Winter, Jamison Newlander, and Barnard Hughes.

<i>Phone Booth</i> (film) 2002 film by Joel Schumacher

Phone Booth is a 2003 American neo-noir thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher, produced by David Zucker and Gil Netter, written by Larry Cohen and starring Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes, Radha Mitchell, and Kiefer Sutherland. In the film, a mysterious hidden sniper calls a phone booth, and when a young publicist inside answers the phone, he quickly finds his life is at risk. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and was a box office hit, grossing $97 million worldwide against a production budget of $13 million.

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<i>A Time to Kill</i> (1996 film) 1996 film by Joel Schumacher

A Time to Kill is a 1996 American courtroom crime drama film based on John Grisham's 1989 novel. Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, and Kevin Spacey star, with Oliver Platt, Ashley Judd, Kiefer and Donald Sutherland, and Patrick McGoohan appearing in supporting roles. Set in Mississippi, the film involves the rape of a young girl, the arrest of the rapists, their subsequent murder by the girl's father, and the father's trial for murder. The film was a critical and commercial success, making $152 million at the worldwide box office. It is the second of two films based on Grisham's novels directed by Joel Schumacher, with the other being The Client released two years prior.

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