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Joel Schumacher (born August 29, 1939) is an Americanmarker film director, screenwriter and producer.


Early life and career

Schumacher was born in New York Citymarker, the son of Marian (née Kantor) and Francis Schumacher. His mother was a Swedish Jew, and his father was a Baptist from Knoxville, Tennesseemarker who died when Joel was four years old. Schumacher studied at Parsons The New School for Designmarker and The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. After first working in the fashion industry, he realized his true love was in filmmaking. He moved out to Los Angeles, where he began his media work as a costume designer in films such as Sleeper and developed his skills with television work while earning an MFA from UCLAmarker. He wrote the screenplay for the 1976 low-budget hit movie Car Wash and a number of other minor successes. He also wrote 1978's The Wiz, an adaptation of the stage play of the same name. His film directorial debut was The Incredible Shrinking Woman in 1981, which starred Lily Tomlin, and he quickly made more successful films, including two "brat pack" works.

The Brat Pack

St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys, considered to be archetypal movies of the 1980s, 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. This is mentioned several times.

John Grisham

Schumacher has also directed two adaptations of the books of John Grisham, The Client (1994) and A Time to Kill (1996), the latter as the personal choice of Grisham.


Schumacher would later replace Tim Burton as the director of the Batman film franchise. After Burton's second Batman film in the franchise, Batman Returns (1992), proved to be too controversial for Warner Bros. to market (due to critics and parental groups complaining that the film was too dark and violent for children), the studio wanted the next film to be more family-friendly. Schumacher soon became a studio favorite to take over the directing helms. He had grown a reputation for making hit films with a relatively small budget (although, it only remained to be seen whether Schumacher was ready to handle a big-budget franchise film like a Batman film). Also, his work on The Lost Boys (1987) and Flatliners (1990) showed Warner Bros. that he was capable of creating his own visual style, much like Tim Burton had established as an important element of a Batman film. In addition, his controversial hit Falling Down (1993) showed that he could handle dark material such as the Batman mythos.

He directed Batman Forever (1995), starring Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader (replacing Michael Keaton, who was Batman in the first two films), which was a major commercial success despite receiving mixed reviews. He later directed Batman & Robin (1997), starring George Clooney as Batman, Chris O'Donnell as Robin, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, which was a critical disaster, and remains the least financially successful Batman film. The film prompted Warner Bros. to place the series of movies on hiatus, canceling the next Batman movie Batman Triumphant (after seven years, Batman Begins was released, in a comprehensive reboot of the franchise).

Batman & Robin had a detrimental effect on Schumacher's reputation, forcing him to take on less ambitious projects. 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, apologizes to any fans who were disappointed. Schumacher, however, is a devoted Batman fan himself and actually would have personally preferred an adaptation of the comic Batman: Year One.

Many fans have complained about the "artistic license" Schumacher took with the Batman franchise. The tone of the films became far more camp (akin to the 1960s live-action TV series starring Adam West) under Schumacher's direction and overt sexual elements began to rear their head. One of the more persistent complaints was Schumacher's stylistic approach in putting nipples on the Batsuit, which Schumacher would later claim was inspired by statues of the Greek gods. Others included shots focusing on Batman and Robin's buttocks while suiting up and a Gotham City filled with giant stone statues of nude men (one memorable fight with Mr. Freeze takes place across one). He dismissed these issues in the 2005 special edition DVD of Batman Forever, saying that these people should "get out more."

He served as the director for the music videos, "Kiss from a Rose", by Seal, and "The End Is the Beginning Is the End", by The Smashing Pumpkins (co-directed with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris). These songs appeared in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, respectively.Since 1998, Schumacher has said he is interested in re-editing Batman Forever to make it closer to as it was originally conceived.

Schumacher has since apologized for Batman & Robin.

Post-Batman career

Following Batman & Robin, Schumacher went on to direct lower budget films (stepping down from $100 million budget films) like 8MM with Nicolas Cage, and Flawless with Robert De Niro. Neither were big hits, and reviews were mostly negative. In 1999, Schumacher also directed the music video for "Letting the Cables Sleep" by Englishmarker 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 as such: "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 because of 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, which reteamed Schumacher with Farrell. The film was also delayed months further due to the Beltway sniper attacks. It received generally positive reviews, earning a 71 percent "Fresh" rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Schumacher directed a film version of the musical The Phantom of the Opera in 2004. The film earned mixed reviews, gaining harsh criticism from fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber's original stage musical for casting and directorial choices. However, it turned out to be a moderate success. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy which it did not win.

The director has since filmed The Number 23, which was a critical and box office flop.

His next project is vampire thriller Creek, which began shooting in March 2007.

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


Schumacher has been openly gay through most of his career. In Liz Smith's memoir, Natural Blonde, she states that "He called himself 'A Sexual Outlaw'" and discusses their love affair and subsequent friendship.


  • In "Legends of the Dark Knight", an episode of The New Batman Adventures, three teenagers discuss their ideas about what Batman is really like. They briefly meet an effeminate youth called Joel (in front of a shoemaker's shop, no less) whose idea of Batman consists mainly of a fascination with the tight rubber suits and a Batmobile that can drive up walls (as seen in Batman Forever). The other three kids treat Joel's ideas with utter disdain.

  • An episode of MADtv includes a sketch where Schumacher discusses his new project, a Batman musical called Batman V: Out of the Cave starring Tommy Tune as Batman, and Ben Vereen as Robin. Samples of the performance are shown and are filled with flamboyant and blatantly homosexual elements.

  • In an episode of Robot Chicken, a riot breaks out at a comic/sci fi convention, where Schumacher is trying to flee the scene, only to get lynched by a rampaging mob of Batman fans and one in particular dressed as Robin who says, "Joel Schumacher is history's greatest monster!"

  • In another episode of Robot Chicken, Schumacher pitches his idea for a Batman Begins parody, Heimlich Begins (based on the Heimlich maneuver) in which Heimlich battles a villain called "The Choker" (a parody of Batman villain Joker), who attacks with animated sausage links. At the end, the entire sketch is revealed to have been described by Schumacher. The skit ends with a reference to Schumacher's sexuality: "It's always sausage with you, isn't it?"

  • In Episode 4 of Clerks: The Animated Series, Randal demands his money back from a nipple-Batsuit-clad Schumacher after seeing Batman and Robin, saying, "Man, Batman and Robin was so gay!"

  • In Hitman & Lobo, Tommy calls Section 8 while Lobo is tearing apart a group of gangsters. When Sixpack asks about the screaming in the background, Tommy replies that he is in a cinema and the audience is watching a Joel Schumacher retrospective.

  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory called "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" Sheldon states that Joel is on his most hated list for trying to ruin the Batman series.



  3. Joel Schumacher Biography at Yahoo! Movies
  4. "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
  6. Phone Booth Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes

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