Batman Forever and Lost Boys director Joel Schumacher dies at 80

Joel Schumacher started as a costume designer in the 1970s before rising to the top ranks of Hollywood directors.
Joel Schumacher started as a costume designer in the 1970s before rising to the top ranks of Hollywood directors.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Joel Schumacher, the director of two flamboyant Batman films and cult teen classic The Lost Boys, has died of cancer aged 80.

The maverick who began as a costume designer before rising to the top ranks of Hollywood directors passed away in New York City, publicists ID-PR said in a statement to AFP.

Schumacher "passed away quietly from cancer this morning after a year-long battle. He will be fondly remembered by his friends and collaborators," it said.

The director is best known to wider audiences for the divisive Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).

Schumacher had taken over helming the highly lucrative comic book franchise from director Tim Burton, and his first effort starring Val Kilmer performed well at the box office.

But both movies, notable for their camp and colourful style, were assailed by many critics and fans, who took particular exception to the nipples Schumacher added to Batman's suit.

In a 2017 interview, Schumacher told Vice he wanted to "apologise to every fan that was disappointed" by Batman & Robin, adding that he felt "like I had murdered a baby."

The caped crusader's big-screen franchise was later reinvigorated by director Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005).

Schumacher started as a Hollywood costume designer in the 1970s, working on movies including director Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973) and Interiors (1978).

Brat Pack-starring coming-of-age drama St Elmo's Fire (1985) was Schumacher's first bona fide hit as a director.

He followed up with teen vampire movie The Lost Boys (1987) and sci-fi Flatliners (1990) before helming the Batman titles for Warner Bros.

Schumacher is credited with helping to launch several young A-list careers, including Matthew McConaughey in A Time To Kill (1996) and Colin Farrell in Tigerland (2000) and Phone Booth (2003).

Prior to his Hollywood career, Schumacher attended art school and worked as a window designer for a New York women's accessories store.