While it's no surprise for a comic book movie to make millions of dollars at the worldwide box office, Joker's R-rated storyline and detachment from other corners of the DC Extended Universe made it a much more intimate affair, with Variety reporting that the smaller scale of the production earned star Joaquin Phoenix a $4.5 million paycheck for the endeavor. Phoenix has been a critically-acclaimed actor for years, yet his name isn't often associated with "blockbusters," in addition to the smaller production budget of the entire project being a fraction of other comic book movies resulting in the smaller salary compared to some of his peers.
The report also noted that Margot Robbie earned an estimated $9-10 million for Birds of Prey while Gal Gadot scored $10 million for Wonder Woman 1984. While their box office careers might not be as extensive, both of those films are follow-ups to massively success films, confirming that their involvement ensured the financial success of the upcoming DCEU films.
Given the major haul it has earned at the box office, it seems like it was a certainty that Joker would become not only a box office success but also a cultural event, but with this being the first film focused solely on the iconic Batman villain, its more mature nature, and overall lackluster reception to DCEU films, it was considered a gamble by Warner Bros. Luckily, that gamble has paid off, and the insular production has become the most profitable comic book movie of all time.
With an estimated budget of $62.5 million, and with the film slated to cross the $1-billion mark this weekend, that makes for a profit of more than 15 times its budget. Prior to Joker, Jim Carrey's The Mask was considered the most profitable, as it earned $351 million on a budget of $23 million. Forbes broke down other top competitors among other comic book movies inspired by major publishers, which are Venom (earning $854 million on a budget of $90 million), Batman (earning $411 million on a budget of $35 million), and Deadpool (earning $783 million on a budget of $58 million).
One of the big questions on everyone's minds is whether we'll see Phoenix as Joker again in a sequel, which director Todd Phillips doesn't seem to be ruling out.
"But it couldn’t just be this wild and crazy movie about the 'Clown Prince of Crime,'" Phillips shared with The Los Angeles Times. "It would have to have some thematic resonance in a similar way that this does. Because I think that’s ultimately why the movie connected, it’s what’s going on underneath. So many movies are about the spark, and this is about the powder. If you could capture that again in a real way, that would be interesting."
Joker is in theaters now.
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