Director Joel Schumacher, seen here attending the Australian premiere of Batman & Robin, has died aged 80. Picture: Supplied
Director Joel Schumacher, seen here attending the Australian premiere of Batman & Robin, has died aged 80. Picture: Supplied

Batman, Lost Boys director dead at 80

Joel Schumacher, the prolific and debonair director who had a winning streak of Hollywood hits in the 1980s and 1990s - and put the fun back into the Batman film franchise - has died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80.

Schumacher was a former costume designer, which gave his films an impressive sense of style, and his background in fashion gave him an eye for star casting, working with and discovering some of the biggest names in the business.

An eclectic filmmaker, his films a varied in style but always packed a punch.

Director Joel Schumacher has died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File
Director Joel Schumacher has died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 80. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File

 

He studied at Parsons the New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and worked in the fashion industry, before pursuing a career in filmmaking, which he broke into by writing screenplays.

 

 

His most successful features are wide-ranging in theme and style, and include St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys and the Batman films.

He also directed suspense dramas such as Veronica Guerin starring Cate Blanchett and Trespass with Nicole Kidman.

 

Cate Blanchett and director Joel Schumacher on the set of 2003 film Veronica Guerin. Piccture: Supplied
Cate Blanchett and director Joel Schumacher on the set of 2003 film Veronica Guerin. Piccture: Supplied

 

But it is the Batman franchise that spelled his biggest commercial successes and Schumacher was placed in charge of the series when Tim Burton left Warner Bros after two huge hits.

 

 

Schumacher made a splash with Batman Forever starring Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey and Nicole Kidman, which grossed over $US300 million worldwide, proving that audiences could stick with a comic-book scenario for multiple instalments.

 

1997’s Batman, Robin and Batgirl. Film. George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone. Picture: Supplied
1997’s Batman, Robin and Batgirl. Film. George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone. Picture: Supplied

 

Schumacher's second film in the franchise was 1997's Batman and Robin, with George Clooney as Batman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.

Schumacher dialled back the dystopian vision of Burton's interpretation, taking the film in a slightly comic direction.

The film provoked criticism when Schumacher decided to add nipples to Batman's batsuit and introduce a homoerotic subtext to the Batman and Robin relationship.

In 2006, George Clooney revealed to Barbara Walters that he had played Batman as gay.

But the film still grossed $US238 million globally.

 

US actor George Clooney in costume as Batman. he said he played the role as if he was gay. Picture: Supplied
US actor George Clooney in costume as Batman. he said he played the role as if he was gay. Picture: Supplied

Schumacher left the Batman series but his films show immense variety and range.

He had landed on the Hollywood map in 1985 with his third feature film, St. Elmo's Fire, which he directed and co-wrote.

The film starred Brat Packers Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy and Demi Moore.

 

 

He shifted gears from this 20-something post-university drama to stylish horror comedy, The Lost Boys, about a group of young vampires played by Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. The film was a hit, predating the success of the Twilight series.

 

The Lost Boys (1987) was a successful vampire film aimed at teens from Joel Schumacher. Picture: Supplied
The Lost Boys (1987) was a successful vampire film aimed at teens from Joel Schumacher. Picture: Supplied

Flatliners, which he wrote and directed, was also a hit, but not everything he touched turned to gold.

Cousins starring Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini, and Dying Young, starring Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott didn't do well.

 

Michael Douglas in Falling Down played a white collar worker who loses it, when he finds himself five minutes late for the breakfast special at McDonald's. Picture: Supplied
Michael Douglas in Falling Down played a white collar worker who loses it, when he finds himself five minutes late for the breakfast special at McDonald's. Picture: Supplied

 

In 1993 he made Falling Down, an unlikely critical and commercial success starring Michael Douglas as a white American male who wreaks havoc on society after having a meltdown, anticipating "toxic masculinity" before that was even a phrase.

 

 

Schumacher also had hits with two John Grisham adaptations - The Client, and A Time to Kill, which boasted a megawatt cast (Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd and a young Matthew McConaughey).

Always adventurous within the bounds of Hollywood, Schumacher also experimented with genre, making a contemporary film noir with 8MM, and an "odd couple" buddy film, Flawless, about a homophobic cop played by Robert De Niro a drag queen, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

 

Tributes have begun pouring in to celebrate the director whose career spanned almost 50 years.

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Batman, Lost Boys director dead at 80


25,000 pub and club jobs overnight if venue rules ease

Premium Content 25,000 pub and club jobs overnight if venue rules ease

Pubs are poised to immediately create 9000 jobs and clubs 16,000

Buyer of $22m beachfront Byron mansion revealed

Premium Content Buyer of $22m beachfront Byron mansion revealed

Hollywood stars Zac Efron and Matt Damon were rumoured to want it

Northern Rivers’ towns set to hit low 40s this weekend

Premium Content Northern Rivers’ towns set to hit low 40s this weekend

A POTENTIALLY dangerous heatwave is set to roll across the region in the coming...