Joel Schumacher

Joel T. Schumacher (/ˈʃmɑːkər/; born August 29, 1939) is an American filmmaker.

Joel Schumacher
Schumacher in 2003
Joel T. Schumacher

(1939-08-29) August 29, 1939
EducationParsons The New School for Design
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Years active1972–present

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.

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.


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.

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.


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 a lukewarm 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 financial success. 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".[15]

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.[16][17]

In October 2011, Schumacher released his latest film, Trespass. The action-thriller reunited Schumacher with stars Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage.[18]

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.[19]

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.[20] Schumacher claims that he has had sex with up to 20,000 men.[21]

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.[22]

Politically, Schumacher is a Democrat.[23]



Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer
1976 Sparkle No Yes Directed by Sam O'Steen
Car Wash No Yes Directed by Michael Schultz
1978 The Wiz No Yes Directed by Sidney Lumet
1981 The Incredible Shrinking Woman Yes No Directorial debut
1983 D.C. Cab Yes Yes a.k.a. Street Fleet
1985 St. Elmo's Fire Yes Yes
1987 The Lost Boys Yes No
1989 Cousins Yes No
1990 Flatliners Yes No
1991 Dying Young Yes No
1993 Falling Down Yes No
1994 The Client Yes No
1995 Batman Forever Yes No
1996 A Time to Kill Yes No
1997 Batman & Robin Yes No
1999 8mm Yes No Also producer
Flawless Yes Yes Also producer
2000 Tigerland Yes No
2002 Bad Company Yes No
Phone Booth Yes No
2003 Veronica Guerin Yes No
2004 The Phantom of the Opera Yes Yes Also executive music producer
2007 The Number 23 Yes No
2009 Blood Creek Yes No
2010 Twelve Yes No
2011 Man in the Mirror Yes No Short
Trespass Yes No
Only Executive Producer
Year Title Director
1995 The Babysitter Guy Ferland
2000 Gossip Davis Guggenheim


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Executive
1974 Virginia Hill Yes No Yes TV Movie
1979 Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill Yes No Yes TV Movie
1983 Now We're Cookin' No Yes Yes TV Movie; directed by Noam Pitlik
1985 Code Name: Foxfire No Yes Story (Pilot) Creator, 8 episodes
1986 Slow Burn No Yes No TV Movie; directed by Matthew Chapman
1992 2000 Malibu Road Yes Yes No 5 episodes (director); 1 episode (producer)
2008 Choose or Lose Yes No No TV Special
2013 House of Cards Yes No No 2 episodes
2015 Do Not Disturb: Hotel Horrors No Yes No Mini-Series, 3 episodes; directed by Mark Marabella

Music videos

Year Artist Title
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
2012 The Killing Floor Star Baby

As costume designer

Year Title Director
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

Year Title Director Notes
1974 Killer Bees Curtis Harrington TV Movie

As cameo appearances

Year Title Role Director(s) Notes
1998 Welcome to Hollywood Himself Tony Markes and Adam Rifkin Mockumentary
2017 Nightcap Himself Johnny Milord Episode '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


  1. "Batman 3". Entertainment Weekly. October 1, 1993. Archived from the original on September 21, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  2. "Tigerland". Rotten Tomatoes.
  3. "Phone Booth". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  4. "Colin Farrell Movie Interview". GQ. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  5. Mentioned on Kiefer Sutherland's interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  6. "The Strange Story Of How Matthew McConaughey Won His First Lead Actor Role". October 14, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  7. Weinraub, Bernard (March 3, 1993). "With 'Falling Down,' Director Savors A New Success". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 13. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  8. "Joel Schumacher Biography". Yahoo! Movies. AEC One Stop Group, Inc. Baseline. Yahoo! Inc. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  9. Nelson, Michael J. (June 20, 2000). Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese. HarperCollins. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-380-81467-1.
  10. "The 50 Worst Movies Ever". Empire. Bauer Consumer Media. February 4, 2010. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  11. Couch, Aaron (June 14, 2015). "Before 'Batman Begins': Secret History of the Movies That Almost Got Made". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  12. "Long ago, when this whole thing started, Batman: Year One... was always my favorite, and I was always hoping that I would do that one. There was no desire to do that the first time around, and there was definitely no desire to do that the second time around." – Joel Schumacher, Shadows of the Bat Part 5: Reinventing a Hero, Batman Forever Special Edition DVD
  13. "Berlinale: 1999 Programme". 1999. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  14. "Phone Booth". Fandango. April 4, 2003. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  15. "Scars On Broadway Taps Joel Schumacher For 'World Long Gone' Video Shoot". August 22, 2008. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  16. Keyes, Daniel (January 2010). "Frequently Asked Questions and Updates". SpiderHill Design. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  17. "A Crowded Room". Daily Script. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  18. Child, Ben (June 16, 2010). "Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage to co-star for first time in Trespass". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  19. Fischer, Russ (January 4, 2012). "'The Machinist' Director Brad Anderson Taking Over 'The Hive' From Joel Schumacher". /Film. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  20. "Gay directors bring home the bacon". The Advocate. May 13, 2003. Archived from the original on November 21, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2007.
  21. "Director Joel Schumacher Says He's Had Sex With Up To 20,000 Partners". HuffPost. August 29, 2019. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  22. Papamichael, Stella. "No.26: Joel Schumacher". BBC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.