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Todd Phillips responds to reports of a Joker sequel: 'It came out of nowhere'

By Josh Weiss

The big news yesterday was that Todd Phillips was already developing a Joker sequel with Warner Bros. Deadline eventually quashed the rumors, reporting that no such meeting between the two parties had ever taken place. At an industry screening of the film in New York last night, the director confirmed that no follow-up is in the works right now.

“Yeah that was written about today, and I have to be honest, it came out of nowhere. It referred to a meeting that was never had,” Phillips said at the event (attended by The Playlist), which was hosted by Michael Moore. “I thought it was anticipatory at best. Obviously, sequels have been discussed when a movie that cost $60 million made $1 billion, but we have not had any serious conversations about it.”

Phillips went on to say that, at this time, there's no guarantee of getting Joaquin Phoenix to reprise the role of Arthur Fleck. In fact, Phoenix has never made a sequel throughout his entire acting career. The director, who is active on Instagram, admitted that he may have been able to dispel the premature rumors sooner if he had a Twitter account.

"We don’t have a deal with Joaquin, they don’t have a deal with me and the writer. I don’t know where that came from, honest to God,” he explained. “It’s a hard thing to refute when you don’t have a Twitter account, and you’re not really out there. You just go, ‘Ok, this will disappear in 24 hours, let’s move on.’"

Joker Joaquin Phoenix

In a separate interview with IndieWire, Phillips touched on how he initially pitched an entire "label" of dark DC films to Warner Bros., which the studio shot down. With Joker now a massive success, it's possible that they could give him the green light, although there's nothing in the works at the moment.

“First of all, if you know me and my career, that’s not my style," he told IndieWire. "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."

The topic of Martin Scorsese's recent comments about comic book movies was also broached at the aforementioned screening. As is common knowledge, Scorsese was going to direct Joker at one point, but eventually decided to pass on the project.

"My only issue with what he said – and I have no issue with anything he ever says, I literally worship the man – is that he’s lumping a lot of movies into one thing, and I think that’s a tough thing to do," Phillips said. “What I know is a lot of great artists who work on those movies, not just directors but actors and craftspeople. So I didn’t love that he lumped a whole group. It seemed rather reductive. But I do know what he was meaning. Really, what he’s talking about is exhibition. He’s talking about how they take over the theaters, the multiplexes, the screening spaces, and it does [not] really leave room for some of the other stuff. The only issue is movie studios are going to make whatever movies people show up to. In a weird way, the audience holds the power."