Joel Schumacher
Joel Schumacher.jpg
Schumacher in 2003
Born(1939-08-29)August 29, 1939
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 2020(2020-06-22) (aged 80)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materParsons School of Design
OccupationFilmmaker
Years active1970–2017

Joel T. Schumacher (/ˈʃmɑːkər/; August 29, 1939 – June 22, 2020) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer who was active from the 1970s to the 2010s.

Schumacher was raised in New York City by his mother and suffered from substance abuse at a young age. He became a fashion designer after graduating from Parsons School of Design, but would continue suffering from substance abuse and high levels of debt until the early 1970s. He first entered film-making as a production and costume designer before gaining writing credits on Car Wash, Sparkle, and The Wiz.

He received little attention for his initial theatrically released films, The Incredible Shrinking Woman and D.C. Cab, but rose to prominence after directing St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys. Schumacher was selected to replace Tim Burton as director of the Batman franchise and oversaw Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. After the Batman franchise Schumacher directed smaller budgeted movies, including Tigerland and Phone Booth. He directed The Phantom of the Opera which was released to mixed-to-negative reviews in 2004. His final directorial work was for two episodes of House of Cards.

Critical reaction to Schumacher's films ranged from critical accolades, for The Lost Boys and Falling Down, to critical disdain, with Batman & Robin being regarded as one of the worst films ever made.

Early life and education

Joel T. Schumacher was born on August 29, 1939, in New York City, to Francis Schumacher, a Baptist from Knoxville, Tennessee, who died from pneumonia when he was four, and Marian Kantor, a Swedish Jew. He was raised by his mother in Long Island City, and during his youth he used LSD, methamphetamine, and started drinking alcohol by age 9. In 1965, he graduated from Parsons School of Design, after having studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and later became a designer for Revlon in 1966.[1][2][3][4]

At the time of his mother's death in 1965, Schumacher stated that his "life seemed like a joke" as he was $50,000 in debt, lost multiple teeth, and only weighed 130 pounds. However, in 1970, he stopped using drugs and became employed at Henri Bendel. He later stated that "I got my self-respect back getting a good day’s pay for a good day’s work".[3]

Career

Production designer

In 1972, Schumacher served as a costume designer for Play It as It Lays and designed the wardrobes of Dyan Cannon, Joan Hackett, and Raquel Welch for the film The Last of Sheila.[5] In 1973, he served as a costume designer for Woody Allen's Sleeper, and Paul Mazursky's Blume in Love.[6] In 1974, he served as the production designer of Killer Bees. He later served as a costume designer for The Time of the Cuckoo, The Prisoner of Second Avenue and Interiors.[7][8]

Early filmmaking

In 1974, Schumacher wrote a script for an eponymous biographic made-for-television movie based on the life of Virginia Hill. He was selected to serve as the movie's director and started filming on September 9.[9][10]

In 1974, he and Howard Rosenman wrote the script for Sparkle which later went into production in 1975, and was released in 1976.[11][12] His original plan for the movie was for the movie to be a "black Gone with the Wind", but had to be modest due to the limited budget given to the production by Warner Bros. According to Schumacher the film represented his "personal fascination" with Jesse Jackson, Angela Davis, Tammi Terrell, and Diana Ross.[13] He was later selected to write the screenplays for Car Wash and The Wiz.[14]

In 1978, Schumacher was selected to serve as the director of Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill which was later released in 1979.[15][16][17] On January 31, 1980, he submitted a script for A Chorus Line, but the film underwent rewrites in development hell.[18][19]

In 1979, he was selected to serve as the director of The Incredible Shrinking Woman, his first theatrically released film, to replace John Landis, who had left after Universal Pictures had reduced the movie's budget.[20][21] In 1981, the film was released to negative reviews, and was a box office bomb.[22][23] The movie was initially given a $30 million budget, but it was reduced to $11–13 million although it would later rise to over $20 million due to the cost of special effects.[24][25]

In 1983, he directed D.C. Cab starring Mr. T, but later stated that he only worked on the movie as he needed a job.[26]

St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys

In 1984, Schumacher was selected by Columbia Pictures to direct St. Elmo's Fire and was secretive during the production of the movie.[27][28] In 1987, he directed the The Lost Boys. Both movies were successful among young people and were his first major critical and commercial successes.[29][30][31]

Following The Lost Boys he directed Cousins, a remake of the French film Cousin Cousine, Flatliners, Dying Young, Falling Down, and The Client.[29][30][31]

Batman

Schumacher was selected by Warner Bros. in 1993 to replace Tim Burton as the director of the Batman franchise. He directed Batman Forever, which was less mature than Burton's Batman and Batman Returns. Batman Forever was released to mixed reviews, but was more financially successful than Batman Returns.[29][30][31][32]

He later directed Batman & Robin, which was rushed into production following Batman Forever and was intentionally made toyetic and light-hearted to appeal to children and sell merchandise. The film was released to mostly negative reviews and did not perform as well at the box-office as any of its predecessors causing a planned sequel, Batman Triumphant, to be cancelled. Schumacher later approached Warner Bros. to pitch concepts for a new Batman movie which were inspired by Frank Miller's graphic novels, Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. But due to the critical failure of Batman & Robin along with the negative impact that the film had on his reputation, Warner Bros. refused to let him develop another Batman film.[33] Schumacher later apologized for the quality of Batman & Robin in 2017.[34][29][30][31]

It was alleged that Schumacher, a gay man, had added homoerotic elements to the film with the most prominent being the rubber nipples, codpieces, and close-up camera shots of Batman and Robin's buttocks.[35] Schumacher stated that the designs of the suits had been based on anatomically correct Greek statues and medical drawings. However, in 2005, Clooney said that Schumacher told him that Batman was gay.[34][36]

Later career

Following Batman & Robin Schumacher directed 8mm, Flawless, Gossip, Tigerland, Bad Company, Phone Booth, Veronica Guerin, The Phantom of the Opera, The Number 23, Blood Creek, Twelve, and Trespass.[29][30][31]

In August 2008, Schumacher directed the music video for American rock band Scars on Broadway, for their single "World Long Gone".[37]

In 2013, he directed two episodes of the television series House of Cards.[30]

Death

On June 22, 2020, Schumacher died from cancer. Following his death, he was praised by Jim Carrey and Matthew McConaughey, who credited Schumacher with launching his career.[38]

Personal life

Schumacher became sexually active at age 11, and had sex with three girlfriends during his youth. When he was 15 he started a relationship with a 17-year-old boy that lasted two years. Schumacher said that he had had sex with between 10,000 and 20,000 men. During the AIDS epidemic, he lost multiple friends, and had multiple tests on himself performed due to fears that his promiscuity would give him AIDS.[39]

In 1984, he purchased the horse stables that belonged to Rudolph Valentino from Doris Duke.[40]

He made political donations to the Democratic Party, the congressional campaigns of Robert J. Mrazek, Nick Clooney, and Donna Shalala, and John Kerry's presidential campaign.[41]

Filmography

Director or writer

Title Year Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
Virginia Hill 1974 Yes Yes No TV movie[31]
Sparkle 1976 No Yes No Movie[31]
Car Wash 1976 No Yes No Movie[14]
The Wiz 1978 No Yes No Movie[14]
Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill 1979 Yes Yes No TV movie[31]
The Incredible Shrinking Woman 1981 Yes No No Movie[31]
Now We're Cookin 1983 No Yes Executive TV short movie[42]
D.C. Cab 1983 Yes Yes No Movie; also known as Street Fleet[31]
Code Name: Foxfire 1985 No Story (Pilot) Executive TV series; 8 episodes
St. Elmo's Fire 1985 Yes Yes No Movie[14]
The Lost Boys 1987 Yes No No Movie[14]
Cousins 1989 Yes No No Movie[14]
Flatliners 1990 Yes No No Movie[14]
Dying Young 1991 Yes No No Movie[31]
2000 Malibu Road 1992 Yes No Executive TV series; 5 episodes (director); 1 episode (producer)
Falling Down 1993 Yes No No Movie[14]
The Client 1994 Yes No No Movie[14]
Batman Forever 1995 Yes No No Movie[14]
A Time to Kill 1996 Yes No No Movie[31]
Batman & Robin 1997 Yes No No Movie[14]
8mm 1999 Yes No Yes Movie[14]
Flawless 1999 Yes Yes Yes Movie[14]
Tigerland 2000 Yes No No Movie[31]
Bad Company 2002 Yes No No Movie[31]
Phone Booth 2002 Yes No No Movie[14]
Veronica Guerin 2003 Yes No No Movie[31]
The Phantom of the Opera 2004 Yes Yes No Movie[14]
The Number 23 2007 Yes No No Movie[31]
Choose or Lose 2008 Yes No No TV special
Blood Creek 2009 Yes No No Movie[14]
Twelve 2010 Yes No No Movie[31]
Man in the Mirror 2011 Yes No No Short film
Trespass 2011 Yes No No Movie[14]
House of Cards 2013 Yes No No TV series; 2 episodes
Title Year Role Notes
Play It as It Lays 1972 Costume designer[31] Movie
Cleopatra Jones 1973 Producer[43] Movie
Blume in Love 1973 Costume designer[31] Movie
The Last of Sheila 1973 Costume designer[31] Movie
Sleeper 1973 Costume designer[31] Movie
Killer Bees 1974 Production designer[7] TV movie
The Time of the Cuckoo 1974 Costume designer[8] Movie
The Prisoner of Second Avenue 1975 Costume designer[31] Movie
Interiors 1978 Costume designer[31] Movie
Slow Burn 1986 Executive producer TV movie
The Babysitter 1995 Executive producer Movie
Gossip 2000 Executive producer Movie
Do Not Disturb: Hotel Horrors 2015 Executive producer TV series; 3 episodes

Music videos

Artist Year Title
INXS 1988 Devil Inside[44]
Lenny Kravitz 1993 Heaven Help (European Version)
Seal 1994 Kiss from a Rose (Version 1)[44]
The Smashing Pumpkins 1997 The End is the Beginning is the End
Bush 1999 Letting The Cables Sleep
The Killing Floor 2012 Star Baby

Cameo appearances

Title Year Role Notes
Welcome to Hollywood 1998 Himself Mockumentary film
Nightcap 2017 Himself Episode: "Guest in a Snake"

References

  1. ^ "Young U.S. Designers Say Paris Has Had It". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. May 6, 1965. p. 20. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "They're Egotistical But Lack Confidence". Hartford Courant. May 19, 1966. p. 38. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b "Joel Schumacher, Director of 'St. Elmo's Fire,' Is Dead at 80". New York Times. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Joel Schumacher obituary". The Guardian. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Schumacher To Design Clothing". Clarion-Ledger. December 8, 1972. p. 51. Archived from the original on June 23, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Futuristic 'Sleeper': A Film With Behind-Times Costumes". The Los Angeles Times. January 1, 1974. p. 62. Archived from the original on June 23, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ a b "Joel Schumacher, Director of Batman Films and 'Lost Boys,' Dies at 80". Variety. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ a b "The Time Of The Cuckoo". The Los Angeles Times. March 10, 1974. p. 495. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Dyan Cannon In Fall Drama". The Tribune. July 20, 1974. p. 19. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Virginia Hill Filming Starts". The Los Angeles Times. August 18, 1974. p. 147. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "'Sparkle' set". Kenosha News. June 26, 1974. p. 33. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Shooting Starts On 'Sparkle'". The Atlanta Constitution. May 25, 1975. p. 157. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "To Schumacher, Black Is Bankable". The Los Angeles Times. June 2, 1976. p. 82. Archived from the original on June 26, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Where to Stream the Films of Joel Schumacher". Vulture. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020.
  15. ^ "Amateur Night Director". The Los Angeles Times. May 29, 1978. p. 40. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "'Amateur Night' no challenge to viewer". Austin American-Statesman. January 8, 1979. p. 23. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE DIXIE BAR AND GRILL(1979)". Archived from the original on June 27, 2020.
  18. ^ "'A Chorus Line' – Still No Movie". The Los Angeles Times. June 20, 1982. p. 273. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "3d studio takes on 'A Chorus Line'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 8, 1983. p. 103. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ "The Incredible Shrinking Woman Director". Daily News. March 23, 1979. p. 77. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ "Schumacher replaces Landis". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 13, 1981. p. 22. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ "THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN (LA INCREÍBLE MUJER DIMINUTA)".
  23. ^ "The Incredible Shrinking Woman Box Office".
  24. ^ "'Shrinking' role may restore her confidence". The Philadelphia Inquirer. January 20, 1981. p. 21. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ "Budget For New Tomlin Film Grows". The Cincinnati Enquirer. June 23, 1980. p. 17. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "FILM / Damaged goods in the shop window: He's upset America's Hispanics and Koreans, and he's not exactly the toast of Los Angeles. Is Joel Schumacher sorry? Is he hell. Sheila Johnston reports". Independent. May 29, 1993. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020.
  27. ^ "St. Elmo's Fire". Daily News. March 30, 1984. p. 95. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "Secretive production". Daily News. July 9, 1984. p. 72. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ a b c d e "Joel Schumacher, director of Batman movies and 'St. Elmo's Fire,' dead at 80". CNN. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g "Joel Schumacher, Director With a Flair for the Distinctive, Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Joel Schumacher: 1939–2020". Roger Ebert. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020.
  32. ^ "Batman Battle". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  33. ^ "8 Unmade BATMAN Movies". warpedfactor. October 4, 2019.
  34. ^ a b "Twenty Years Later, Joel Schumacher Is Very Sorry About 'Batman & Robin'". Vice. June 12, 2017. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  35. ^ Joel Schumacher, Peter MacGregor-Scott, Chris O'Donnell, Val Kilmer, Uma Thurman, John Glover, Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 6-Batman Unbound, 2005, Warner Home Video
  36. ^ "'Happy' to sign off". Variety. June 27, 2005. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  37. ^ "Scars On Broadway Taps Joel Schumacher For 'World Long Gone' Video Shoot". Blabbermouth.net. August 22, 2008. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  38. ^ "Jim Carrey, Matthew McConaughey And More Pay Tribute To Batman Director Joel Schumacher". Cinema Blend. June 23, 2020. Archived from the original on June 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  39. ^ "In Conversation: Joel Schumacher After five decades in Hollywood, the director has plenty of stories — but don't expect him to kiss and tell". Vulture. June 22, 2020. Archived from the original on June 26, 2020.
  40. ^ "Rudolph Valentino". The South Bend Tribune. September 7, 1984. p. 40. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  41. ^ "Donor Lookup". Archived from the original on June 27, 2020.
  42. ^ "Now We're Cookin". The Indianapolis Star. February 20, 1982. p. 33. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  43. ^ "Black singers sought for new musical". Battle Creek Enquirer. August 25, 1974. p. 21. Archived from the original on June 25, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  44. ^ a b "Joel Schumacher: Stars remember 'creative and heroic' Lost Boys director". BBC. June 23, 2020.

External links