Joker got off to a fantastic start at the box office, but how many records has it broken in its run? Prior to the fall, Warner Bros. had a pretty rough go at it at the multiplex. A few of their high-profile films, like The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and Godzilla: King of the Monsters severely underperformed and faced an uphill climb to make their money back. Even the WB projects that by and large were a success, such as Shazam and Detective Pikachu, didn't exactly set the marketplace on fire. The former earned $140.3 million domestically, while the latter brought in $144.1 million domestically.
These results were a far cry from WB's 2018, which saw smash hits Aquaman ($335 million), A Star is Born ($215.2 million), and Crazy Rich Asians ($174.5 million) attract large crowds. Fortunately for the studio, things have been on an upswing for the past couple of months. In September, IT Chapter Two got off to a $91 million start. More recently, Joker finally came out after building steady buzz since its August premiere at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, and it continued WB's hot streak. In fact, Joker is rewriting the record books a bit.
Joker - October Opening Day Record
In the weeks leading up to its theatrical premiere, it was projected Joker would break the all-time October opening weekend record (more on that in a bit). The film solidified its chances to do so by storming out of the gates with $39.7 million in its first day. That topped the previous mark set by Halloween last year ($33 million domestically).
Joker - October Domestic Opening Weekend Record
Before the Venice screening (where Joker took home the Golden Lion) and the discourse truly taking a hold of the zeitgeist, Joker was always expected to be a hit film. The original estimates had it making as much as $77 million domestically in its first three days, which would have been higher than Aquaman. But once word-of-mouth started to spread and Joker emerged as the year's most polarizing awards contender, the projections substantially increased. In its first weekend, Joker made $93.5 million in the U.S., topping the previous mark held by Venom ($80.2 million).
Joker - October Global Opening Weekend Record
Joker wasn't just a hit domestically; international audiences flocked to the theater in droves. The film posted $152.2 million in foreign territories, meaning its worldwide total stands at $245.7 million. Joker set all-time October records in 21 different countries, including Spain, Mexico, and Australia. Venom, unsurprisingly, was the previous record holder here with $207.3 million. If Sony does indeed slate Venom 2 for their claimed October 2020 release date, they'll be trying to get some of these records back.
Joker - October IMAX Opening Record
Though Joker is a far cry from the typical comic book adaptation (leaning more on character drama than spectacle), WB still gave it a release in the premium format. That decision paid off in spades, as Joker earned $9 million from IMAX screenings in its opening weekend. Many reviews praised Joker's production design and cinematography, so viewers were eager to see the film's strong visuals on the biggest screen possible.
Joker - Director Todd Phillips Opening Weekend Record
Todd Phillips has some substantial commercial hits under his belt, but Joker got off to the strongest start. That aforementioned $93.5 million debut beats The Hangover Part II's $85.9 million. Joker being based on a well-known comic book villain helped here, though word-of-mouth likely had more to do with it. The Hangover Part II was panned as a lazy comedy sequel, which likely hurt its commercial prospects a bit back in 2011.
Joker - Joaquin Phoenix Opening Weekend Record
Joaquin Phoenix is picky about what he stars in. He turned down the opportunity to play Doctor Strange in the MCU partially because he was reluctant to sign a multi-picture contract. So, while a number of his films are critically acclaimed, they tend to be more niche and auteur-driven and don't make much at the box office. Joker is definitely the exception, far eclipsing the $60.1 million posted by Signs back in 2002 (unadjusted for inflation). Despite its arthouse approach, Joker is one of the most commercial films of his career, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.
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