Joel Schumacher

Joel Schumacher

Schumacher in Taormina during the Taormina Film Fest in 2003, for the Italian premiere of Phone Booth.
Born Joel T. Schumacher
(1939-08-29) August 29, 1939
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Parsons The New School for Design
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Director, screenwriter, producer
Years active 1972–present
Notable work The Lost Boys, Falling Down, Flatliners, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, A Time to Kill, 8mm, Tigerland, Phone Booth

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

Schumacher directed The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), St. Elmo's Fire (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), Cousins (1989), Flatliners (1990), Falling Down (1993), The Client (1994), Batman Forever (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Batman & Robin (1997), Flawless (1999), Phone Booth (2002), Veronica Guerin (2003), The Phantom of the Opera (2004) and The Number 23 (2007).

Before he launched his career as a director, Schumacher also wrote the screenplay adaptation of The Wiz (1978).

Early life

Schumacher was born in New York City, the son of Marian (née Kantor) and Francis Schumacher.[1] His mother was a Swedish Jew, and his father was a Baptist from Knoxville, Tennessee, who died when Joel was four years old.[2] Schumacher studied at Parsons The New School for Design and The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.[3] 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 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 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, in 1997. The film did not perform as well at the box office as its predecessors, and was a critical failure; it is frequently considered to be one of the worst films ever made.[4][5] Warner Bros. subsequently put the Batman movie series on hiatus, canceling Schumacher's next planned Batman movie, Batman Unchained.[6] 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 is a devoted Batman fan himself, and has said he would have personally preferred an adaptation of the comic Batman: Year One.[7]

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.[8]

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 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 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.[9] Buoyed by Farrell's recently found fame, the film would earn $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 took a limited release.

In August 2008, Schumacher directed the music video for American rock band Scars on Broadway, for their upcoming single "World Long Gone".[10]

In October 2011, Schumacher's released his latest film, Trespass. The action-thriller reunited Schumacher with stars Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage.[11]

He was slated to next direct the film The Hive, but left the project for an undisclosed reason, replaced by Brad Anderson.[12]

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.[13]

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



Costume designer


  1. "Joel Schumacher Biography (1939-)".
  2. Weinraub, Bernard (March 3, 1993). "With 'Falling Down,' Director Savors A New Success". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  3. Joel Schumacher Biography at Yahoo! Movies
  4. Nelson, Michael J (2000-06-20). "Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese". ISBN 978-0-380-81467-1.
  5. "The 50 Worst Movies Ever". Empire. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  7. "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
  8. "Berlinale: 1999 Programme". Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  9. "Phone Booth". April 4, 2003.
  10. "Scars On Broadway Taps Joel Schumacher For 'World Long Gone' Video Shoot -". BLABBERMOUTH.NET.
  11. Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage to co-star for first time in Trespass The Guardian. June 16, 2010
  12. Fischer, Russ. "'The Machinist' Director Brad Anderson Taking Over 'The Hive' From Joel Schumacher". /Film.
  13. "Gay directors bring home the bacon". The Advocate. May 13, 2003. Archived from the original on November 21, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2007.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joel Schumacher.
Batman film
Preceded by
Tim Burton
Succeeded by
Christopher Nolan
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