JOKER Was Considered Such A Risk By Warner Bros., They Split Production Costs...And Now Have To Split Profits!

JOKER Was Considered Such A Risk By Warner Bros., They Split Production Costs...And Now Have To Split Profits!

After Justice League, Warner Bros.' faith in its DC slate was seemingly shaken to the core because the studio decided to split Joker's production costs, a decision which has now hurt them in a big way...

In the weeks leading up to the release of Joker, controversy surrounded the movie, and there were concerns of a very real risk of some sort of mass shooting by an incel inspired by the Clown Prince of Crime's violent actions. Thankfully, nothing happened, but Warner Bros. was clearly worried about this particular DC Comics adaptation from the start. 

According to a story from The New York Times, "[Greg] Silverman and Kevin Tsujihara, then the studio’s chairman, were stunned" when director Todd Phillips first pitched the idea of an origin story for The Joker which would depict the character as having the same mindset as real-life mass murderers. 

Despite a "division among the ranks," the decision was made to move forward with the project, but Warner Bros. was determined to play it safe. Worried that Joker wouldn't perform well at the box office, the studio enlisted Bron Studios and Village Roadshow to co-finance the film. That made it cheaper to produce, but it also means they now have to split the profits with them.

Considering the fact that Joker has made close to $600 million at the worldwide box office and many analysts believe that it could reach anywhere from $800 million - $1 billion by the time all is said and done, you have to believe that Warner Bros. seriously regrets this decision. 

What did you guys think of Joker?

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best Easter Eggs, cameos, and references in Joker!

Zorro The Gay Blade


One of the most direct references to the comic books in Joker comes when we see Thomas and Martha Wayne leading Bruce out of a movie theater where they've been watching Zorro the Gay Blade.

That was obviously the movie the Waynes watched in the comics before they were gunned down, but rather than Bruce dragging them out because he's scared, it seems they're just trying to escape the unrest on the streets of Gotham. It's worth noting that this movie was released in 1981, which confirms that Joker is also set during that year. 

"Super Rats"


Early on in the movie, we see a news report mentioning that Gotham City has been invaded by "super rats." Batman has never faced a gigantic rat in the comics, but there is a villain called Ratcatcher.

His real name is Otis Flannegan and he uses his a preternatural ability to train rodents to commit crimes. There's nothing to indicate that's what's happening here, of course, but it's possible it's a nod to the villain! 

Justin Theroux's Unexpected Cameos


Justin Theroux has seemingly become the master of noteworthy cameos in big franchises, because after his brief appearance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he shows up in Joker as well. 

We see him when Arthur is playing that tape of Murray Franklin welcoming a guest named Ethan Chase on the show to promote something called American Playboy. It's hard to tell, but that is indeed Theroux who makes this small, but still really fun little cameo in the DC Comics movie.

The Franklin Murray Show


As has already been noted online, the font used for "Live With Murray Franklin" is the same we saw in the Batman: The Animated Series titles. It's not the only nod on this show, though. 

Arthur's dressing room is #404. That was the first chapter in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's iconic Batman: Year One, a story that doesn't necessarily inspire what we see in Joker, but definitely has the same tone. The 1980s setting is also the same and this could be where Todd Phillips looked for inspiration for his take on Gotham City. 

A Obscure DC Comics Villain


Look closely and you'll notice that Dr. Benjamin Stoner is responsible for Penny Fleck's diagnosis. Well, in the comics, a Dr. Stone was also part of Arkham Asylum during the 1980s and he later went on to become a rather obscure Doctor Fate villain! 

There's another possible Easter Egg with Detective Burke, one of the cops pursuing Arthur. We don't learn his first name, but there was a Tommy Burke who was a detective in the pages of Detective Comics and Gotham Central. However, he doesn't seem to have much in common with this version.

Bryan Callen's Cameo


If you've got sharp ears, you might notice that one of Arthur's co-workers is played by Bryan Callen, the comedian and actor who played Eddie in Todd Phillips' Hangover movies. 

He said on a podcast a while back that he had been cast as an ageing stripper in Joker, so chances are he was meant to have a larger part which got cut down either for timing issues, or because he revealed more than Warner Bros. wanted him to! With any luck, he'll make it into the deleted scenes.

Pogo's Comedy Club


Arthur performs his admittedly terrible stand up set in Pogo's Comedy Club, and there's probably a good reason it's named that. It's not because it's based on an iconic location, however; instead, Pogo the Clown was actually serial killer John Wayne Gacy's "respectable" alias.

This is a dark hint at what's to come for Arthur later in the movie and a very clever little touch. 

Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times


When Arthur manages to track down his "father" Thomas Wayne in that theater, the film playing is 1936 comedy Modern Times starring Charlie Chaplin. 

This film was actually added to the Library of Congress in the US National Film Registry in 1989 as it was deemed "culturally significant." The movie is a commentary on poor working conditions in the industrial age and there are themes in there which are definitely relevant to Joker and our world.

The Dark Knight Returns


Joker's appearance on Franklin Murray's talk show is very similar to The Dark Knight Returns, as he commits a similarly violent act in that story. 

However, another nod comes when Joker plants a kiss on a fellow guest. Dr. Sally has to be a nod to Dr. Ruth Weisenheimer from Frank Miller's seminal tale, so Todd Phillips clearly paid some attention to the source material when crafting this particular scene in the DC Comics adaptation. 



This is easily missed on a first viewing, but when Arthur is putting on his makeup, he picks up a photo of his mother as a young woman with a message on the back reading, "Love your smile, TW."

He quickly crumples that up and dismisses it, but this could very well be confirmation that Thomas Wayne is Arthur's father. Alternatively, Penny might have written it on there herself! 

Wayne Manor


Arthur pays a very tense visit to Wayne Manor where he comes across his "brother" Bruce Wayne. In one of Joker's weirdest nods, the young Bruce slides down a pole in his playground in what feels like a very direct reference to the Bat-Pole which became a staple of the 1960s classic TV series. 

Oh, and the Englishman who gets roughed up by Arthur is exactly who you think he is. Actor Douglas Hodge is credited as Alfred Pennyworth at the end of the film despite never being named in it.

A Nod To Batman's Co-Creator


Early on in the movie, Arthur meets with his social worker, Debra Kane. She was actually a character in the Batman novel The Ultimate Evil, but common sense says this is a nod to Batman co-creator Bob Kane. 
There's also a possible reference to Bill Finger, as Sophie Dumont works in Gotham Savings Bank on 20 William Street. That might be something of a stretch, though, especially as Finger is so often overlooked in movies.
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