A new Joker origin story movie starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role is officially happening, with production to begin this September, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story will reportedly be an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”
The Hangover director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the script, is directing. The Warner Bros. movie reportedly has a budget of only around $55 million, which is well below what other Warner Bros. superhero and villain movies have cost to produce. According to THR, the film is “meant to be darker and more experimental in tone and content (at least as experimental as a studio can be with established brands such as DC), which is described as being akin to a crime drama.”
No official release date has been set, but THR claims the film could be in theaters by late 2019. Shooting reportedly starts in September in New York.
Phoenix is a veteran and accomplished actor. He earned three Oscar nominations, for Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master, though he has yet to win. The actor’s name has been attached to the Joker for many months now, but today marks the first official confirmation that the movie is happening.
While Phoenix has yet to star in a comic book movie, he’s been close before. Before Benedict Cumberbatch was cast, the actor was in talks to star in Doctor Strange. He also passed on the role of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Additionally, this will be the first comic book film for Phillips, who previously directed the Hangover franchise, War Dogs, and 2003’s Old School.
The new Joker movie with Phoenix is separate from the other one starring Jared Leto as the Prince of Crime. Phoenix’s movie will reportedly have no impact on Leto’s portrayal of The Joker in future movies–including Suicide Squad 2 and his film.