'Joker' Movie Starring Joaquin Phoenix Is Officially Going Into Production

The origin movie based on The Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, will go into production later this year, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Director Todd Phillips co-wrote the script with Scott Silver. According to the announcement, Warner Bros. describes The Joker as being an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”

There is no official release date yet for The Joker, which will carry a significantly lower price tag to produce than most recent superhero movies. THR pegs it around $55 million, which is right in the neighborhood of the $30 million to $75 million estimates that have been tossed around since rumors of the film started to percolate. Rumor has it the film will go into production in September in New York.

Years ago, reports suggested that DC would bolster its mega-budget blockbusters with a line of less-expensive movies, often starring characters thought to be less broadly marketable. Names tossed around at the time included Booster Gold, who is rumored to have his own movie in devleopment now; Doom Patrol, whose TV series will come to DC Universe in 2019; and Suicide Squad, which was released in 2015 and featured The Joker in his most recent screen appearance.

That Joker, played by Jared Leto, is rumored to have a film in development as well, although the smart money is on both Joker movies not going forward at the same time. Leto's Joker may also appear in Suicide Squad sequels or its planned spinoffs, Gotham City Sirens and Birds of Prey. A Harley Quinn/Joker movie was rumored for a while but appears to have fallen out of favor at the studio.

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The Phoenix-led Joker movie is rumored to be part of a slate of films to be titled "DC Black" or "DC Dark," which would stand independent of the existing, interconnected DC movies universe -- although we have speculated it would actually be Black Label, an upcoming comics imprint with a similar mission statement.

The Joker has no official release date yet but could be in theaters as early as 2019.

Justice League is now on home video. The DCEU continues with Aquaman on December 21, Shazam! on April 5, 2019, Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019. Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps are still in development, along with numerous other films, but it is not yet clear what impact changes at DC management will have on their timetables for production and release.