No one is laughing at Joker, studio Warner Bros.’ highest-grossing release of the year. Since its Oct. 4 start, the Todd Phillips-directed drama has earned a still-growing $737 million worldwide, making it the eighth highest-grossing movie of 2019. Joker has left a series of shattered records in its wake, including ousting Sony’s Venom as October’s largest domestic and international opening of all time, Warner Bros.’ biggest domestic opening since 2017, the fourth-best opening weekend for an R-rated movie domestically, and career bests for Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro. Joker’s box office success gets the last laugh on WB, as the studio reportedly gave the film, set outside its mainstream DC Comics film continuity, a smaller budget in hopes it wouldn’t get made.
“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,” Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian previously told Variety. “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.”
Joker’s $96.2 million opening weekend topped the $80.3m pulled in by the PG-13-rated Venom one year earlier and won October’s biggest opening day with $39.7m.
Again topping Venom, which swung to a $127.2m international opening, Joker rolled out internationally with $152m, setting a record for October. In addition to scoring WB its biggest international openings in the U.K. ($14.8m) and Russia ($10m), Joker emerged as the biggest October debut of all time in 21 different markets globally.
After coming just short of Justice League’s $93.8m opening, Joker topped DC’s 2018 release Aquaman ($67.8m) and 2019 release Shazam! ($53.5m).
Joker’s $247m global launch topped Venom’s $207.3, giving it October’s largest worldwide launch of all time.
Joker ($96.2m) comes in fourth, behind only Deadpool ($132.4m), Deadpool 2 ($125.5), and IT ($123.4m). Joker is followed by The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8m) and September’s IT: CHAPTER TWO ($91.1m).
IT remains Warner Bros.’ highest opening in recent years at $123.4m, itself followed by Justice League ($93.8m) in November 2017. For comparison, WB’s domestic openings for its most notable releases of 2019 include Shazam! ($53.5m), The Curse of La Llorona ($26.3m), Pokemon: Detective Pikachu ($54.3m), Godzilla: King of the Monsters ($47.7m), Shaft ($8.9m), Annabelle Comes Home ($20.2m) and IT CHAPTER TWO ($91m).
Joker took in a record-setting $9 million in IMAX ticket sales, the largest for October, and won the second-best fall opening. Warner Bros.’ IT, released in September 2017, remains the largest fall opening at $123.4m.
Joker became Phillips’ biggest opening when it topped 2011’s The Hangover Part II ($85.9m). For Phoenix, this is his biggest opening since the M. Night Shyamalan-directed Signs ($60.1m) in 2002; for De Niro, Joker more than doubled his previous biggest opening, 2004’s Meet the Fockers ($46.1m).