Joker: Folie à Deux budget has reportedly soared to $200m

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Where 2019’s Joker roughly cost $60m, the budget for the villainous sequel Joker: Folie à Deux is said to have ballooned to $200m.

One of the riskier-sounding comic book movies on the horizon is Todd Phillips’ Joker: Folie à Deux, a sequel to his unexpectedly huge 2019 success, Joker.

Due for release in October, the film will continue the story of failed comedian and burgeoning criminal mastermind Arthur Fleck, who this time will be joined by Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. Joker: Folie à Deux is said to be a musical, which could make for a left-field creative choice if the film continues the same vein of withering violence seen in the first.

The other risk Warner Bros has reportedly taken, though, is with its budget. Where the first film cost somewhere in the region of $55-70m – a relatively lean sum for a movie based on a DC comic – the budget for Joker: Folie à Deux has reportedly ballooned to $200m.

According to Variety's sources, that inflated cost is partly down to star salaries – Joaquin Phoenix is said to be getting $20m to play the title role again, while Lady Gaga is getting a salary of $12m. Those sizeable paydays are said to be due to growing competition from streaming firms.

“There’s only so much top talent in Hollywood, and it’s very competitive and stretched thin because a lot of talent have deals in streaming,” media analyst Jeff Bock told Variety. “If theatrical is going to work, you need the A-lister […] and Warner Bros. is spending what they need to spend to keep this talent.”

It remains to be seen whether the remaining $168m will be on display on the big screen. For context, this spring’s Dune: Part Two cost roughly $120-190m (reports vary), but that film is an epic on the scale of an old Cecil B DeMille flick. Joker: Folie à Deux, meanwhile, is a sequel to a film about a lonely singleton who lives in a run-down flat.

Joker, despite its R-rating, was a commercial smash, making a shade over a billion dollars. Warner Bros will likely be counting on the sequel creating the same kind of critical and financial shockwave. Ominously for Warner executives, the Joker sequel is partly inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1982 musical, One From The Heart. That film was made for a then-huge $26m. It made roughly $600,000 on its original run in US cinemas.

Joker: Folie à Deux is out in UK cinemas on the 4th October.

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