Joaquin Phoenix and Joker director Todd Phillips are laughing their way to the bank. The DC comic book film launched to a record debut for October, making $96 million in North America at the box office, according to Variety. Joker took home an international total of $152.2 million, giving the film a worldwide debut of $248.2 million total.
UPDATE: Joker is now the most profitable comic book film of all time after bringing in $953 million worldwide, according to Forbes. As Scott Mendelson writes, the movie should “have a new global cume of around $957 million by tonight. That will be 15.3x its $62.5 million production budget, which will make the Todd Phillips-directed and Joaquin Phoenix-starring drama more profitable, in terms of budget versus global gross, than Jim Carrey’s The Mask ($351 million on a $23 million budget in 1994). The most profitable “big” comic book movies are Venom ($854 million on a $90 million budget), Batman ($411 million/$35 million), Deadpool ($783 million/$58 million), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($200 million/$13.5 million), The Mask ($351 million/$23 million) and now Joker ($956 million/$62.5 million).”
Another UPDATE: Joker is now the first R-Rated film to top $1 Billion.
The North American debut smashed the previous record set by Tom Hardy’s Venom film, which made $80 million in 2018. Phoenix’s performance has earned rave reviews and Oscar buzz, while the Joker film itself has received many strong reviews along with controversy for its portrayal of realistic violence. Joker is on the way to becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and it’s expected to make some big profits for Warner Bros.
“Our sources say the Joaquin Phoenix pic is poised to make at least $464 million after global theatrical, TV and home entertainment windows, and it could be more if the worldwide box office for the Todd Phillips-directed movie exceeds $900M,” according to Deadline‘s accounting. “That amount of profit isn’t that far from what Avengers: Infinity War racked up last year.”
Phoenix starred in the film as Arthur Fleck/The Joker alongside a cast that included Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, and Bill Camp. The film cost just $55 million to make, so it should turn a profit once once it finishes its run in theaters. The R-rated film is a major box office victory for Warner Bros. and DC, which have rebounded from the critical and commercial disappointments of Justice League and Suicide Squad.
Since those films, the DC/Warner Bros. comic book films have all been successful, with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman making over $1 billion at the box office and Zachary Levi’s Shazam! earning positive reviews and a solid box office performance with $364.5 million worldwide. Both films have sequels in development.
The success of Joker should give DC/Warner Bros. confidence in their upcoming films, as both Birds of Prey with Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor, and The Batman with Robert Pattinson are both within the world of the Caped Crusader. Along with that, Wonder Woman 1984 comes out in June 2020 and follows up the first Wonder Woman, which was a critical and commercial success.
While no sequel is currently in development for Joker, it’s possible Phoenix and Phillips could be lured back to make another one after the success of the first film.
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