Joker danced into theaters to the tune of a $96 million opening weekend, according to adjusted estimates Monday. Studio Warner Bros. on Sunday last reported the Todd Phillips-directed drama, an origin tale for the iconic Batman villain, opened to a record $93.5 million. The $96 million score for the R-rated DC Comics film sets an all-time best opening for October, topping Sony-Marvel’s Venom released this time last year, and gives stars Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro their biggest opening weekends. In-studio, Joker’s opening weekend is the biggest for a DC Comics film since Wonder Woman’s $103.2m in June 2017, topping Justice League’s $93.8m, Aquaman’s $67.8m and Shazam!’s $53.5m.
Joker has also won $152.2m overseas, putting its global opening at $248.2m. This follows Joker winning a $13.3m Thursday preview and a $39.8m Friday. Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Variety Joker got its stronger-than-expected start because of early positive reviews. In August, following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Joker was received by an eight-minute standing ovation before going on to win the Golden Lion, the festival’s prestigious top prize.
Dergarabedian also said Joker benefitted from the buzz raised by the film’s controversy. Though it was plagued by concerns the film might spark real-life violence or acts of terror inspired by its central character, Phoenix’s mentally ill loner Arthur Fleck, audiences weren’t deterred from flocking to Joker.
“Not only did Joker over-perform in North America, but also internationally where the acclaim, buzz and controversy surrounding the film resonated strongly with moviegoers who put the film at the top of their cinematic priority list,” Dergarabedian said. “Movies that become part of the general conversation due to their controversial nature are often those that transcend their status as a movie to become a cultural event and this is exactly what happened with Joker.”
In a statement released before Joker reached domestic theaters, Warner Bros. said this dark take on the makeup-wearing criminal does raise “complex issues” but is not an endorsement of violence.3comments
“Neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” the studio said. “It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”
“People knew what the movie was and the noise in the background did not slow it down,” Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s president of domestic distribution, told Variety. “It’s a thought-provoking film. We are enormously proud of Todd Phillips and the whole marketing team.”