Todd Phillips' Joker is now expected to beat the previous October box office opening record set by Venom, following its premiere on the film festival circuit this past weekend. The upcoming DC Comics adaptation marks a change of pace from Warner Bros.' recent DC movies, in the sense that it's not only rated R, but isn't connected to the DC Extended Universe (as it's unofficially known) that Man of Steel launched in 2013. Instead, it's a one-off project that ignores classic DC comic book stories like The Killing Joke and puts a brand-new spin on the Clown Prince of Crime's origins.
Joker premiered at the Venice Film Festival this past weekend and earned a strong reception, with many critics praising its '70s-style blend of character and crime drama, and cementing star Joaquin Phoenix's status as a contender in the next Best Actor Oscar race. That's no doubt welcome news for WB, which was understandably hesitant about green-lighting the decidedly adult-oriented comic book adaptation in the first place. Now, thanks to the positive early word of mouth, the projections for Joker's box office debut have risen even higher.
According to Box Office Pro, Joker is now headed towards an $81 million opening weekend take at the U.S. box office next month. That's a step up from the previous estimate of $77 million, and would be enough to set a new record for October (beating the $80.2 million record set by Venom just last year).
The way things are going, Joker is on its way to becoming an early fall hit for WB. If so, it will follow in the footsteps of last year's A Star is Born, which was also an R-rated awards season contender that surpassed the initial box office estimates (buoyed by the word of mouth from its own premiere on the festival circuit) to become a hit last October, opening second behind Venom. Bradley Cooper's remake went on to gross $435 million worldwide and landed multiple nominations at the 2019 Oscar ceremony, ultimately taking home the prize for Best Original Song. Joker only cost an estimated $55 million to produce, so it will already been well on its way to profitability after its U.S. opening weekend (based on the latest estimates). Still, WB would surely be more than happy for the film to perform like A Star is Born did after that.
On the other hand, Joker is already proving to be controversial in a way that A Star is Born was not, with some of the less-flattering early reviews painting the movie as being a well-acted and directed, but problematic character study. The critical discourse around Joker is only getting started, but is already giving rise to heated discussions about the film's premise, and whether it's really as gritty and audacious as it's aspiring to be. If anything, though, this will probably only encourage more people to give the movie a look when it hits theaters and see what all the fuss is about. Either way, Joker is well on its way to an impressive start next month.
Source: Box Office Pro
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022