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What's Really Going On With The Rumored Joker Sequel

Is a Joker sequel really happening, or is it all just a laugh? Depending on which source you've turned to recently, you'll get a different answer. 

On Tuesday, November 20, The Hollywood Reporter ran a story claiming that a follow-up to Todd Phillips' Joker, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, was officially underway at Warner Bros. — despite the ceaseless chatter that suggested otherwise, and Phillips' own comments about the status of a potential Joker 2. Later that same day, Deadline reported that no such project was in motion, no deal was signed, and there were no negotiations whatsoever between the folks at Warner Bros., Phillips, and Joker co-writer Scott Silver. 

Where THR cited anonymous sources that stated Phillips had a meeting on October 7 with Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich about making both a Joker sequel and a number of origin stories about other DC characters, Deadline claimed that was "flat false."

Since both THR and Deadline are reputable sources with a bevy of legitimate sources at their sides, it was difficult to tell which outlet was running the truth, especially since the two tellings of the situation at hand were so different. Thankfully, Phillips himself has come forward to clear the air and share what's really going on with the rumored Joker sequel. 

The Joker sequel's off for now — and it was never officially on

Speaking with IndieWire, Phillips dashed dreams of a Joker sequel by confirming that Deadline's report was accurate: there was "no meeting," there's "not a contract for us to even write a sequel," and he and Silver have "never approached Joaquin to be in a sequel."

The writer-director further explained, "I can honestly say to you there was no meeting that ever happened on October 7 where I marched in. First of all, if you know me and my career, that's not my style. I made a huge comedy at Warner Bros., The Hangover, and I didn't suddenly become a comedy factory producer, like, oh, let's just churn out movies. Bradley [Cooper] and I have a production company at Warners. I've been at Warners for 15, 16 years. We have two things in development at all times, not 40 things like some people. I'm not the kind of guy who goes marching in saying I want these 40 titles. I just don't have the energy."

Phillips then noted that he did pitch to Warner Bros. a collection of gritty, character-driven comic book adaptations — but that was a while back, long before work ever began on Joker. He explained that Joker wasn't presented as a single movie but as part of a "whole label" of dark movies, which he noted Warner Bros. quickly shut down. The studio did, of course, move forward with Joker – but according to Phillips, there was no guarantee of any subsequent projects, not even a Joker 2

Despite the swirling rumors, troubling comments from Phoenix, reassuring remarks from Phillips, and general back-and-forth about a second Joker movie, Phillips is totally understanding of why people would be talking about such a project — particularly given the record-breaking financial success of the first film, which has made over $1.02 billion worldwide to become the best-earning R-rated movie ever. 

"A movie doesn't make a billion dollars and they don't talk about a sequel. Joaquin and I have publicly said we've been talking about a sequel since week two of shooting because it's a fun thing to talk about," said Phillips, who reiterated that the article THR ran earlier in the week was "referring to other things than that that were just frankly untrue."

Will there ever be a Joker 2?

All things accounted for, Phillips got down to brass tacks to reveal the truth about a possible Joker sequel: he and Phoenix have "talked about it," and there have been discussions with higher-ups at Warner Bros., but nothing is official for the time being.

"While Joaquin and I have talked about it, and while touring the world with Warner Bros executives — going to Toronto, and Venice, and other places — of course, we're sitting at dinner and they're saying, 'So, have you thought about...?'" he stated. "But, talking about contracts, there's not a contract for us to even write a sequel, we've never approached Joaquin to be in a sequel. Will that happen? Again, I just think the article was anticipatory at best."

Like Phillips hinted at, it's difficult to imagine people not talking about a Joker sequel in the wake of the original film's outrageous success. While some may argue that a second movie isn't necessary, that Joker told the story of the failed-comedian-turned-killer Arthur Fleck perfectly and left nothing to be desired, others will be clamoring for a Joker 2 until that movie actually happens. For now, it sounds like the project isn't going to make lift-off any time soon, so try not to cry off your clown make-up in the meantime.