Schumacher's career began as a costume designer from 1972 to 1978, including two Woody Allen films, Sleeper and Interiors. He also wrote the screenplays to films such as Sparkle, Car Wash, The Wiz and D.C. Cab, which he also directed.
Later in his career, he would co-write his Brat Pack hit St. Elmo's Fire, write Flawless and co-write with Andrew Lloyd Weber his adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera.
After directing two TV movies, Schumacher made his feature film directorial debut with The Incredible Shrinking Woman. The film starred Lily Tomlin in a comedic remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man.
His 1985 film St. Elmo's Fire starred Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson and Mare Winningham as college grads struggling to figure out their lives. Estevez, Sheedy and Nelson were fresh off the John Hughes hit The Breakfast Club and dubbed "The Brat Pack" in the press.
The Lost Boys was a hit about teenagers (Corey Haim and Corey Feldman) slaying vampires in a beach town. He also directed the horror movie Flatliners, about medical students (including Lost Boys' lead vamp Kiefer Sutherland) who explore the afterlife by stopping their heart rates. 1993's Falling Down was a controversial film about a middle aged man (Michael Douglas) who snaps and goes on a violent rampage.
When author John Grisham's legal novels broke into Hollywood, Schumacher helmed the third adaptation, The Client, after The Firm and The Pelican Brief had become hit movies. He would also direct A Time to Kill.
When Tim Burton decided not to direct a third Batman movie, Schumacher took over with Batman Forever. After Burton's Batman Returns was criticized for being too gross and violent for kids, Forever lightened the tone with pastel colors and more comedy. His follow-up, Batman & Robin was then criticized for going too far in the camp direction.
His 2002 thriller Phone Booth set the entire movie in a phone booth where a man (Colin Farrell, who also starred in Schumacher's Tigerland) is held hostage by a sniper (Sutherland again). His last feature film was the Nicolas Cage/Nicole Kidman home invasion thriller Trespass in 2011. His last directing credits were two 2013 episodes of the Netflix series House of Cards.
As a music video director Schumacher's credits include INXS's "The Devil Inside," Lenny Kravitz's "Heaven Help" and Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" from his film Batman Forever.