Joel Schumacher, costume designer-turned-director of films including “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Lost Boys” and “Falling Down,” as well as two Batman films, died in New York City on Monday morning.
The film-maker died of cancer, He was 80. A statement from his publicist said that he “passed away quietly” and will be “fondly remembered by his friends and collaborators”.
Schumacher initially worked in the fashion industry before entering film as a costume designer for Woody Allen’s Sleeper and Interiors. His first screenplay was for 1976’s musical drama Sparkle, which starred Irene Cara and was later remade with Whitney Houston. His directorial debut came in 1981 with The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin.
His first hit came in 1985 with the Brat Pack drama St Elmo’s Fire, which then led him to make The Lost Boys, which became an even bigger hit in the summer of 1987. As the 90s began, he made supernatural thriller Flatliners and romantic drama Dying Young with Julia Roberts before scoring his most acclaimed film to date with 1993’s Falling Down starring Michael Douglas.
Schumacher was handed the reins of the “Batman” franchise when Tim Burton exited Warner Bros.’ Caped Crusader series after two enormously successful films. The first movie by Schumacher, “Batman Forever,” starring Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey and Nicole Kidman, grossed more than $300 million worldwide.
Schumacher’s second and last film in the franchise was 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” with George Clooney as Batman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as villain Mr. Freeze. For “Batman Forever,” the openly gay Schumacher introduced nipples to the costumes worn by Batman and Robin, leaning into the longstanding latent homoeroticism between the two characters. (In 2006, Clooney told Barbara Walters that he had played Batman as gay.)
In a 2017 retrospective of Batman & Robin, Schumacher spoke about his career in film. “I think I’m one of the luckiest people that ever lived. I got my dream. I got it so much bigger than even I could have dreamed it,” he said. “You know, I’m just a kid whose parents died very young who was on his own and grew up behind a movie theater before TV, and I wanted to tell those stories, and look what happened.”