Despite early controversy, Joker has proved to be something of an unstoppable force for DC and Warner Bros. The Todd Phillips-directed film has been killing it at the box office, shattering numerous records and even climbing to become the biggest R-rated film of all time. With the film now in its fourth week in theaters, Joker is even back on top of the box office for the weekend again, beating out Maleficent and Zombieland: Double Tap to reclaim the crown. As Joker crosses the $800 million worldwide box office mark, speculation has begun as to whether the film will manage to hit $1 billion -- something an R-rated film has never done before.
On its face, it seems likely that Joker will, in fact, cross the $1 billion mark and the general evidence for that is best seen the way Joker is performing week to week. Generally speaking, movies perform their strongest during their opening weekend. After that, it's all just a game of how much performance drops from week to week and when it comes to Joker, its weekly drops are a fraction of what its much bigger fellow DC films saw. That is of specific interest because most of those bigger films -- such as Batman v. Superman, Justice League, and others -- saw their overall lifetime gross take such big drops after opening. Joker's smaller drops make it more of a "slow and steady wins the race" scenario for the film. It's also worth noting that Joker had a stronger domestic opening than Aquaman -- a film that brought in $1.148 billion worldwide.
The challenge for Joker hitting a billion appears to be the worldwide box office. For most films that cross that threshold, the worldwide box office is key, and Joker is significantly kneecapped in that regard. It was reported this week that Joker is not expected to be released in mainland China due to the film's content and tone. That means that Joker has already been released on all offshore territories and not having the Chinese box office could prove to hamper things. China is the second largest theatrical market (the domestic North American market is the first). Joker not opening there is definitely a hit.
Even with the lack of the Chinese market, though, Joker is continuing to turn in strong overseas performances as well as continues to do well domestically. It's fair to say at this point that while $1 billion isn't guaranteed, it's highly likely and if there's one thing that's for certain at this point is that one shouldn't count Joker out. The film has managed to not only overcome controversy and negative reviews to reach its current success but even if $1 billion remains elusive, the film has certainly changed the way people see the box office success of R-rated films -- and comic book movies -- for a long time to come.
Joker is in theaters now. Upcoming DC movies include Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.