Joel Schumacher was born in New York City and raised by his mother after his Father died when he was four. He studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Developing an interest in filmmaking whilst working in the fashion industry, he combined the two when he located to Los Angeles being a costume designer in films whilst studying again, this time earning a Master of Fine Arts.
Developing his love for filmmaking, he wrote screenplays such as 1976’s Car Wash and 1978’s The Wiz before making his directorial debut with 1981’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman.
Schumacher transition directing and screenplay in the first of four films where he had director and writer credits with 1983’s D.C. Cab and then with the Brat Pack film, St. Elmo’s Fire.
His next movie was also one of his biggest hits along with St. Elmo’s Fire with the film The Lost Boys.
Having two major hits gave him more credibility and trust with the major studios and a plethora of big hit films followed through the 90’s with 1990’s Flatliners, 1993’s Falling Down, 1994’s The Client, 1995’s Batman Forever, 1996’s A Time To Kill, 1997’s Batman & Robin, and ending the decade with 8mm and Flawless both in 1999. It was a massive compliment to Schumacher’s ability when John Grisham personally asked for Schumacher to direct A Time To Kill after the great work he did with The Client. Many Batman fans consider Batman & Robin to be the worst of the Batman series, and Schumacher agreed that he should’ve stood up for how he wanted the film to be but studio pressure to make a more child friendly film was something he apologised to the fans for.
The 2000’s didn’t get off to a great start with two of his big-budget films being forced to delay their release date with Bad Company, a film about a terrorist attack in New York, originally set for November 2001, and in 2003 the film Phone Booth, about an unseen gunman tormenting a man in a phone booth, was delayed because of a similarity to the Beltway Sniper Attacks.
Dabbling with a musical in 2004, the worldwide earnings of $154.6 million for Phantom of The Opera meant success and award nominations for the film, three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes.
Since Phantom of The Opera, Schumacher directed music videos and other movie projects, some successes and some flops and a couple that he never saw through to the end for various reasons. Schumacher also directed two episodes of the first season of House of Cards.
Schumacher was an open homosexual and boasted that he had sex with 20,000 men. His definition of God was that he wasn’t the highest form of intelligence in the Universe, indicating that there had to be a higher power, but he didn’t like the way the word “God” was misused in society.
Schumacher died from cancer on June 22nd, 2020 at the age of 80.