When Todd Phillips’ Joker was first announced, the idea of an R-rated origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime in a mid-budget crime drama was written off by a lot of people as unnecessary. Even Warner Bros. weren’t particularly sold on the idea, and they co-financed the movie with two other production companies to minimize their losses in the event that it bombed at the box office.
That decision came back to haunt them and hit them incredibly hard in the pocket after Joker turned out to be one of the most profitable films ever made, earning over a billion dollars on a budget of just $55 million to become the highest-grossing R-rated title in history, not to mention an awards season darling that saw Joaquin Phoenix scoop the Academy Award for Best Actor, with Joker being the most-nominated movie of the year after landing eleven nods in total.
The studio were no doubt left kicking themselves, and you can guarantee that they’ll never make the same mistake again. With the DCEU set to introduce and rapidly expand the multiverse in The Flash, standalone projects like Joker and non-canonical franchises like Matt Reeves’ The Batman can exist outside the confines of the main timeline, but are still technically all part of the same franchise.
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In a recent interview as part of the DC FanDome event, DC Films President Walter Hamada confirmed that more standalone movies will definitely be happening, but they aren’t planning to churn them out on an annual basis just to try and recapture the magic that made Joker a cultural phenomenon.
“The possibility is there. It really comes down to like, that our focus is great stories, and so if we come across a filmmaker with an interesting story that doesn’t work within our existing timeline and it would work as an Elseworlds we would definitely explore it. That’s the beauty of multiverse is we can explore it. We can go down the road and take a shot at it. I don’t think you want an Elseworlds movie every year like clockwork. It’d be much better for it to be a special thing and we also want them to be great. We want them to be special. I want to make sure that it doesn’t just sort of feel like we’re just cranking out a volume of different versions of these characters. There has to be a reason for it. And I think it has to be a reason that we’re excited about, we think the fans will be excited about. So, yes, the answer is yes, there will be opportunities.”
There’s been plenty of rumors about a potential Joker sequel and Ben Affleck finally making his own version of The Batman, but with the DCEU currently riding a wave of popularity the likes of which it’s never experienced before, the higher-ups need to be careful that they don’t lose all of that goodwill from fans and audiences by cranking out a series of subpar movies just to strike while the iron is hot.