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June 19, 2024
Joaquin Phoenix, Lady Gaga Fall in Twisted Love
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Joaquin Phoenix, Lady Gaga Fall in Twisted Love

Jun 19, 2024

The Clown Prince of Crime and Harley Quinn want you to know that what the world needs now is… love.

That’s the message of the first trailer for “Joker: Folie à Deux,” which sees Joaquin Phoenix reprise his Oscar-winning role as Arthur Fleck (who later becomes Batman’s notorious foe) and conspire with Lady Gaga as the equally twisted Harley Quinn.

The dark and gritty footage begins at the famed Arkham Asylum — where Joker is locked up at the end of the first film — as Arthur Fleck has a deranged “meet cute” with another inmate (you guessed it, Gaga’s Harley Quinn). After the chance encounter in the halls of prison, they fall madly, deeply in love and plan to break out of their straight jackets to take on the world beyond their padded cells. It brings them to the streets of Gotham City, where they manically dance and twirl around the city.

“I’m nobody. I haven’t done anything with my life like you have,” Harley Quinn, dressed down in sweats, tells Joker as she makes a finger-gun gesture and mimes shooting herself in the head.

The first film served as a moody origin story for the Joker, who is portrayed in this cinematic universe a reclusive, struggling stand-up comedian and part-time clown. In the sequel, he takes his act on the road and performs on all kinds of stages with Harley Quinn as his demented muse — and she’s wearing his signature makeup, smeared lipstick and all. This time around, though, Arthur Fleck doesn’t seem so lonely.

“I’ll tell you what’s changed,” Joker says in the trailer. “I’m not alone anymore — that’s what we should be talking about!”

The trailer ends with Harley at Arkham Asylum as she draws a happy face with red lipstick on the glass partition between her and Joker. “I want to see the real you,” she tells him.

Director Todd Phillips debuted the footage at CinemaCon, the annual convention for movie theater owners. Although the original 2019 “Joker” was billed as a “one-off,” Phillips said he and Phoenix always talked about making a sequel.

“We loved the character of Arthur too much, but we didn’t want to jinx the [original] movie,” Phillips said. “We cast Gaga because she’s magic.”

Little is known about the actual plot of the sequel, which is reportedly a jukebox musical. Phillips said that categorization isn’t entirely accurate, though it will feature plenty of song and dance numbers. In the trailer, they waltz across rooftops and through Gotham City to notes of “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”

“I like to say it’s a movie where music is an essential element,” says Phillips. “It doesn’t veer too far from the first film. Arthur has music in him. He has a grace to him.”

Before introducing the trailer, Phillips thanked the room of theater owners for playing “Joker” on the big screen despite reports that the gruesome, blood-soaked film would inspire violence.

“About a month before the first ‘Joker’ came out, the narrative on the film really turned and there [were] these bizarre warnings about the movie,” he said. “It was amazing that exhibitors didn’t budge an inch, and when the movie came out, it did huge business. That attitude was a huge reason for our success.”

As Phillips alluded, “Joker” became a massive blockbuster with $1 billion at the global box office. It became the first R-rated film to pass the billion-dollar mark and earned 11 Oscar nominations, including best picture.

“Joker 2” will debut on the big screen on Oct. 4, 2024 — exactly five years after the first film. The original cost $62.5 million to produce, an unusually conservative budget for a comic book adaptation. Given its runaway financial success, the follow-up was granted a much more substantial $200 million price tag.

The sequel will screen in the Imax 70mm format. Although it was shot with Imax-certified lenses that modify digital cameras and not its film cameras, the company has created at least 10 film prints of “Joker: Folie à Deux” to play in select worldwide locations.

Footage of “Joker” debuted as part of Warner Bros.’ presentation to exhibitors. The studio also has “Beetlejuice 2,” “Horizon: An American Saga” and “Mad Max” prequel “Furiosa” on its 2024 slate.

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