Warner Bros' Joker takes down another Venom box office record. Directed by Todd Phillips, the psychological thriller received a wide U.S. release on Oct. 4, and easily won the box office competition with a $93.5 million take, thus beating Venom’s October opening weekend box office record. Joker has now topped Venom’s 2018 October Monday box office record as well.
Joker has polarized general moviegoers and critics since the stand-alone film was first announced. Based on the famous DC Comics character, Joker's inherent violence has been a major point of concern for many, even before the film premiered at film festivals. After Joker won the Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, many North American critics later slammed the film upon its release at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unsurprisingly, Warner Bros. marketing executives used the controversy to troll skeptics while simultaneously hyping the film’s wide release. Joaquin Phoenix stars as the title character, and recently stated he’s open to a character reprisal.
Per Deadline, Joker earned $9.72 million at the box office on Monday, Oct. 7 - a landmark achievement that surpasses Venom’s $9.63 million take from last year. The numbers are especially impressive because Joker broke the existing record on a non-holiday, in contrast to Venom's Columbus Day record-setter. In addition, Joker’s big Monday shows that the "controversy" may be officially over, even if many people don’t particular like various aspects of the film, whether it’s the acting, the filmmaking, or the violence. Zazie Beetz and Francis Conroy have supporting roles in Joker, but receive minimal screen time and seemingly exist to underline Arthur Fleck’s changing perspectives.
Joker’s box office success has sparked conversations about how studios produce comic book adaptations, and what Rotten Tomatoes reveals about a film’s release. Phillips has been more than vocal about his thoughts on so-called “woke culture,” prompting one of his own actors, Marc Maron, to comment about the status of modern comedy. Of course, Joker was partially inspired by Martin Scorsese’s 1983 film The King of Comedy, but that talking point - along with many others - have seemingly faded away as moviegoers muse about what Joker means for the future, and for the industry as a whole. To date, Joker has already broken numerous October box office records.
As Halloween approaches, Joker will undoubtedly keep moviegoers flocking to theaters. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how Warner Bros. reacts to the film’s massive success, and if a sequel will be announced in the not-so-distant future. Social media has been a popular forum for people to speak out against Joker (and for good reason), but as far as the pre-release controversy, the high drama about the film's perceived society-changing ultraviolence may have been a marketing trick all along.
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