All the world loves a clown — or at least lots of moviegoers paid to see one this weekend.
Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s dark supervillain drama Joker is on track to earn an estimated $93.5 million at the domestic box office from Friday through Sunday, shrugging off controversy and setting a new record for the biggest October opening ever. The Warner Bros. release dethrones another movie with comic book origins, Sony’s Venom, which bowed to $80.3 million a year ago. Overseas, Joker will add about $140.5 million from 73 markets, for a massive worldwide total of about $234 million.
Directed and co-written by Phillips, Joker puts a new, R-rated spin on the classic Batman villain and stars Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian who unleashes havoc on Gotham City. Heading into the weekend, there were concerns that the film’s bleak themes and imagery could inspire real-life violence, prompting theaters to boost security. Families of victims of the 2012 mass shooting during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., also wrote a letter to Warner Bros. expressing concerns about Joker and urged the studio to use its influence to help make society safer. Nevertheless, audiences have flocked to see the movie.
Reviews for Joker have mixed to positive (it currently has a 69% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), while moviegoers gave it a B+ CinemaScore.
Rounding out the box office top five this weekend are DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable, with about $12.9 million; Focus Features’ period drama Downton Abbey, with about $8 million; STX Entertainment’s stripper tale Hustlers, with about $6.3 million; and Warner Bros’. horror sequel It Chapter Two (another movie about a freaky clown), with about $5.4 million.
Further down the list, the Judy Garland biopic Judy — featuring an acclaimed performance by Renee Zellweger — expands into wide release with an estimated $4.6 million, good for seventh place.
And in limited release, Pedro Almodovar’s semi-autobiographical drama Pain and Glory arrives in four theaters with an estimated $160,087, which works out to a robust per-screen average of $40,022.
Overall box office is down 5 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore, showing a slight improvement from last week. Check out the Oct. 4-6 numbers below.
- Joker — $93.5 million
- Abominable — $12 million
- Downton Abbey — $8 million
- Hustlers — $6.3 million
- It Chapter Two — $5.4 million
- Ad Astra — $4.6 million
- Judy — $4.4 million
- Rambo: Last Blood — $3.6 million
- War — $1.5 million
- Good Boys — $900,000