This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film “Joker.” (Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

‘Joker’ laughs its way to October box office record

Warner Bros. said “Joker” grossed an estimated $93.5 million in ticket sales from 4,374 screens in North America

The filmmakers and studio behind “Joker” have reason to put on a happy face. Despite concerns over its violent themes and ramped up theatre security, audiences flocked to the multiplex to check out the R-rated film this weekend resulting in a record October opening.

Warner Bros. said Sunday that “Joker” grossed an estimated $93.5 million in ticket sales from 4,374 screens in North America. The previous October record-holder was the Spider-Man spinoff “Venom” which opened to $80 million last year. Internationally, “Joker” earned $140.5 million from 73 markets, resulting in a stunning $234 million global debut.

“This was a much larger result at the box office than we had ever anticipated globally,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution. “Putting records aside, we’re just thrilled that audiences are embracing the movie as strong as they are.”

Since debuting at the Venice Film Festival where it won the prestigious Golden Lion last month, “Joker” has been both praised and criticized for its dark spin on the classic Batman villain played by Joaquin Phoenix. The film from director and co-writer Todd Phillips was always seen as a bit of a gamble with one of the studios’ most valuable pieces of intellectual property, hence its modest-for-a-comic-book-film $55 million budget.

But in the weeks leading up to its release, hype and uneasiness intensified beyond how audiences would react to placing this character in a realistic and unambiguously adult setting with “Taxi Driver” undertones. Responding to anxiety that the film might have the potential to inspire violence, multiple theatre chains banned costumes or reaffirmed earlier policies regarding masks and authorities in numerous cities said they were stepping police patrols around theatres. Some relatives of the 2012 Aurora movie theatre shooting even asked Warner Bros . to commit to gun control causes — the studio said it always has.

While some worried this would impact the box office, it did not ultimately detract audiences from turning out opening weekend; the box office surpassed industry expectations and may rise even higher when weekend actuals are reported Monday. Although the film got a B+ CinemaScore from opening night audiences, the studio is optimistic about its long-term playability.

“Sixty-six per cent of the audience was under the age of 35,” Goldstein said. “That tells you that the audience will expand out with that younger group as time goes on.” The younger audience also gave the film a more favourable A- CinemaScore.

Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for box office tracker Comscore, said that the convergence of critical acclaim and controversy actually helped the film become bigger than expected at the box office.

“It’s the ultimate water-cooler movie right now,” Dergarabedian said.

He added that it was important that “Joker” was always marketed as a “very dark, R-rated film.”

“It always had an element of mystery and danger surrounding it,” Dergarabedian said. “If it were a G-rated film, controversy like this would not be a good thing.”

In the landscape of R-rated comic book films, “Joker” is nestled between “Deadpool” and its sequel, both of which opened over $125 million, and “Logan,” which launched with $88.4 million.

“Joker” was the only new wide release this weekend, which is down from last year when both “Venom” and “A Star is Born” opened. Holdovers populated the top 10: The more family friendly “Abominable” landed in second place with $12 million in its second weekend and “Downton Abbey” took third in its third weekend with $8 million.

With awards buzz behind it, the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” starring Renee Zellweger, added nearly 1,000 screens this weekend and placed seventh with $4.5 million from 1,458 locations.

And in limited release, Pedro Almodóvar’s critically acclaimed “Pain and Glory” launched on four screens to a solid $160,087. Less fortunate was the Natalie Portman-led astronaut drama “Lucy in the Sky” which earned only $55,000 from 37 theatres resulting in a dismal $1,500 per screen average.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1.”Joker,” $93.5 million ($140.5 million international).

2.”Abominable,” $12 million ($24.6 million international).

3.”Downton Abbey,” $8 million ($6.6 million international).

4.”Hustlers,” $6.3 million ($1.9 million international).

5.”It Chapter Two,” $5.4 million ($5.6 million international).

6.”Ad Astra,” $4.6 million ($7.3 million international).

7.”Judy,” $4.4 million ($1.9 million international).

8.”Rambo: Last Blood,” $3.6 million ($4.3 million international).

9.”War,” $1.5 million ($2.9 million international).

10.”Good Boys,” $900,000.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theatres (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:

1. “Joker,” $140.5 million.

2. “My People, My Country,” $100.7 million.

3. “The Captain,” $100.4 million.

4. “The Climbers,” $30.1 million.

5. “Abominable,” $24.6 million.

6. “Ad Astra,” $7.3 million.

7. “Gemini Man,” $7 million.

8. “Downton Abbey,” $6.6 million.

9. “The Most Ordinary Romance,” $6.6 million.

10. “It Chapter Two,” $5.6 million.

___

Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District announces Rick Hansen Foundation difference-maker award winners

Creston student Alexis Folk and Nelson teacher Chris Mieske recognized by the Rick Hansen Foundation

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

RDEK urges residents to be prepared for emergencies including flooding, wildfire

The East Kootenay region has been placed on a high streamflow advisory

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read