Should any movie star be paid $50 million for 2-picture sequel deal in current movie era? Case in point: Joaquin Phoenix

Joker ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

Joaquin Phoenix gave a brilliant performance in 2019 as the laughing hyena comic book villain Joker. Taking nothing away from him or any other actor, but in the current movie business climate a company like WarnerMedia — that is deeply in debt — offering an actor $50 million for a two picture sequel deal is nuts.

Is Phoenix worth the money? He might very well be. I mean, WarnerMedia must be thinking we can bank another $1-2 billion in sequel money.

The problem is this isn’t 2019 and moviegoers aren’t going to as many movies in the theater. Will they be in 2021? Maybe, maybe not. 2022 will life in the cinema be back to “normal”? That’s a long shot bet.

Joker star Joaquin Phoenix has reportedly been offered $50 million for two sequels to the Batman spinoff film. The Mirror claims to have an inside source who is claiming that, “Joaquin initially felt Joker was a standalone movie. But he’s changed his tune now. He says he wants to play this character again, despite the controversies that came with the release last year. “It’s still being negotiated but the scripts are being written and Joaquin is very engaged with it.” This is a big jump from the much more ambivalent stance that Joker Todd Phillips had about Joker 2, back at the start of 2020.

Joker Star Joaquin Phoenix Rumored to Be Offered $50 Million for Two Sequels

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people shouldn’t get paid what they’re worth and if Phoenix can get the $50 million deal, if it is truly offered to him up front, my goodness especially for his family and his own personal situation, he should take it.

From a business standpoint, however, WarnerMedia should offer Phoenix something more “modest” (cough!) like a couple million per picture and points on the back end that could possibly earn the actor more than $25 million if the sequels perform at $X level. That gives Phoenix skin in the entire deal’s performance and the possibility to make even more than $25 million per film, but also potentially a lot less if the films do not make anywhere close to the amount of the first film.

In fairness, we don’t know the specifics of this alleged deal made to Phoenix, and maybe it’s structured closely to how I described, so keep that in mind. Still, the timing of this story and the offer being leaded and/or made public is suspect. Especailly when WarnerMedia is laying off workers that make a pittance of the money described here (see: Majority of DC Universe staff have been laid off by WarnerMedia, report says). It could also be a negotiating tactic on Phoenix’s part, perhaps through an agent, wanting to test the water. We don’t have the specific details, so it makes it harder to speculate.

Keeping it real, but most sequels don’t earn anywhere close to the first film. Superhero films admittedly are different in that regard, because they tend to be more episodic like TV and can span multiple films reaching an epic arc or conclusion (a la Avengers).

What do you think? Stupid for any studio in these current cinematic times to be writing checks for large amounts of money for a film that won’t even be released for 2-3+ years? Or do you think the studio is smart to lock up Phoenix while he’s willing to star in more Joker films?

7 thoughts on “Should any movie star be paid $50 million for 2-picture sequel deal in current movie era? Case in point: Joaquin Phoenix

  1. I feel like paying 25 million for a sequel as opposed to 50 million for two sequels would have made a lot more sense. I get trying to capitalize on the Joker hype. Not everyday a movie makes over a billion dollars. But given the way Corona has brutalized the theater industry and the less than lackluster Tenet box office showings paying this much this early is a bit foolhardy.

    I wonder what the production scheduling looks like for the sequels and when Warner is planning on releasing them. If they’re looking well down the line, I don’t see why the sequels wouldn’t make a ton of money. However, if that’s the case, why not wait until then? Maybe they’re scared Joaquin will be attached to another project at the time and the momentum for Joker will die out before they can capitalize on it. Announcing it this early could keep fans on the ready so that the hype machine can be tapped into closer to release.

    Home media sales for the movie have been pretty great ( so far , so maybe they think that’ll spill over to some kind of split VOD/theatre deal in the future (if they’re planning on releasing it sometime next year).

    Given everything, I get why they made the decision. I just think going for the one sequel deal would have been the safer option.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although production has resumed for many films, it doesn’t seem likely WB would release a sequel in 2021. They just pushed back WW1984 to Christmas, so they are still in holding mode. As for any sort of VOD release for a Joker sequel? That seems unlikely as well, but the two-picture sequel deal is definitely the problem, not that Phoenix shouldn’t be locked up for the next picture.


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