If you were working the news desk for an entertainment blog yesterday, your morning started with a bang: The Hollywood Reporter ran an exclusive report claiming that a) Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, who co-wrote the billion-dollar grossing Joker, would soon begin working on a screenplay for a sequel to that film, and b) that Phillips had, in the wake of Joker's $96M opening at the box office, marched right into WB chairman Toby Emmerich's office and asked for access to a number of other DC characters, which he hoped to develop similar origin movies for. THR's report said that Phillips walked away mostly empty-handed on that front, but that he had secured to the rights to "at least one other DC story".
Shortly thereafter, Deadline ran its own post on the matter, one which contradicted THR's version of events. According to them, no deals were yet in place for a Joker sequel, and that the alleged meeting between Phillips and Emmerich simply never happened. This, of course, sent movie blogs scrambling to run retractions and/or update their posts (we chose the latter).
Now, in a new exchange with IndieWire, Phillips himself has weighed in on the matter, saying the meeting between him and Emmerich never took place ("I can honestly say to you there was no meeting that ever happened on October 7 where I marched in") and that the rest of THR's report was "anticipatory at best":
"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. But the [THR] article was referring to other things than that that were just frankly untrue. I don’t know how it gets started, if it’s some assistant trying to gain street cred with a writer.
Here’s the real truth about a sequel: 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…?’ 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.”
So, there you have it: according to Todd Phillips himself, there's no contract in place for he and Silver to write a Joker sequel, Joaquin Phoenix isn't signed to star in said sequel (nor has he been officially approached on the matter) and the story about Phillips walking into Toby Emmerich's office to secure access to a roster of other DC characters is horseshit.
Where does that leave us? Right back where we were yesterday morning, before all of this began. One supposes it's possible that Phillips isn't telling the truth here (perhaps negotiations are ongoing or delicate; perhaps they're wanting to hold this information for a splashier announcement somewhere up the road), but we're inclined to take him at his word here. For the time being, and until we're told otherwise by someone at Warner Bros., we're gonna assume that a Joker sequel is still entirely hypothetical. That's all but guaranteed to change at some point in the future (once again, Joker made one billion dollars at the box office), but until then? Sounds like smoke and mirrors.
Stay tuned for further (official) Joker 2 updates as they roll in.