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411 Box Office Report: Joker Sets October Record With $93.5 Million

October 6, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Joker Joaquin Phoenix, Warner Bros

The Clown Prince of Controversy reigned supreme at the box office this weekend without breaking a sweat, as Joker dominated the competition for a record-setting #1 start. The Joaquin Phoenix-led loose take on the DC Comics villain blasted its way to the top spot with $93.5 million. That is a new record for October, decimating Venom’s record of $80.3 million last year. It also puts the film well past the $80 million to $85 million projections heading into the weekend and marks the best start for a Joaquin Phoenix-starring film with ease.

Obviously there’s a lot to dig into here. Joker has been a fixture of headlines, both within entertainment journalism and without, for its content and the furor surrounding it. There was some concern that it could inspire violence, with several theater chains taking precautions. Fortunately it didn’t, and that controversy did help the film. Critics like the film well enough, at 69% consensus on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3 average rating. That was enough to bring the curious out alongside the diehard comic book fans, which paid off. The word of mouth didn’t hurt either; the B+ CinemaScore and the PostTrak 84% positive score suggest that this one is going to be able to do some repeat business. So Joker could be the rare film that actually turns its controversy into a sustained hit instead of just a one-weekend phenomenon.

That is, of course, the question: how will this one leg out? It’s too comic book-y to have the lengthy run of a serious drama, but there’s a lot to suggest that this could approach the $300 million mark. Foremost among that is the lack of competition for young male audiences in the coming weeks, outside of next week’s Gemini Man. It’s hard to tell for sure at this point, because there aren’t many modern films we can compare it too, but a $270 million finish seems to be pretty doable at this point. Overseas it’s also a hit, with $140.5 million for a $234 million worldwide take thus far against a budget of just $55 million. Warner Bros. is obviously happy with this one.

Everything else was quiet beyond Joker, to no surprise. Last week’s #1, Abominable, dropped to #2 with $12 million. That’s down a very solid 42% in its second week, bringing the animated family film to $37.8 million domestically and $76.3 million worldwide thus far. There’s still a long way to go before it makes a profit against a $75 million budget, but it’s not completely out of sight at this point. The domestic final should end up at around $60 million to $65 million.

Downton Abbey also held decently, down 44% in its third weekend with $8 million. The film follow-up to the TV series is up to $73.6 million domestically and $135.4 million worldwide, a major hit for Focus Features against a $20 million budget. Domestically it is looking likely to cross the $88 million mark.

Hustlers stayed strong, down 45% to $6.3 million. The stripper drama now has $91.3 million domestically and $110 million worldwide against a $20 million budget, making it one of STX’s biggest hits to date. It will likely cross $110 million domestically by the end of its run, which would put it in contention with Bad Moms’ $113.3 million for the highest-grossing STX film ever.

It Chapter Two lost 47% in its fifth weekend to bring in $5.4 million. The franchise closer has $202.2 million domestically and $436.7 million worldwide against a $79 million budget. It’s not the hit its predecessor is, but New Line isn’t crying any tears. It should finish up in the states with around $220 million.

Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra is continuing to fade away, on the other hand. The space adventure dropped 55% in its third weekend to $4.6 million. It’s now at $43.7 million domestically, but overseas numbers are now coming in strong with a worldwide thus far of $111.4 million. Will it make back its $100 million budget? Probably not, but it probably won’t lose a ton of money. The domestic total should finish up at around $55 million.

The Renee Zellweger-fronted Judy expanded this weekend, and it paid off for Roadside Attractions with a 47% increase to $4.4 million. The Judy Garlang biopic is riding the wave of critical momentum and word of mouth like an awards contender, and now stands at $8.9 million. There’s no word on the film’s budget, and Roadside’s expansion plans will still heavily affect the final gross, but it going make it over $20 million and much higher if award momentum picks up.

Rambo: Last Blood crashed 59% in its third weekend to $3.6 million. That’s about what most expected to happen. The action thriller is up to $39.8 million domestically and $64.3 million worldwide against a $50 million budget. It should be able to avoid being a loss thanks to the overseas numbers; here in the states, it will end at around $50 million.

Bollywood film War got off to a good start in the US, bringing in $1.6 million in 305 theaters. The Yash Raj-directed action thriller about an Indian soldier who is assigned to eliminate his former mentor is another example of Indian cinema making headway in the US. The budget was about $28 million and it has already made much of that back in its home country; like most Bollywood productions, the US release is just extra icing on the cake.

Good Boys closed out the top 10 with $900,000, down 57% from last week. The R-rated teen comedy has grossed a total of $82 million domestically and $107.5 million worldwide against its $20 million budget plus marketing. Good Boys is clearly a hit and should end its US stint with around $85 million.

Next weekend will easily see Joker at the top spot. The competition is represented by Ang Lee’s Gemini Man starring Will Smith, which will probably target around $25 million. Also opening is Addams Family which should start in the $20 million to $25 million range.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Joker – $93.5 million ($93.5 million total)
2. Abominable – $12 million ($37.8 million total)
3. Downton Abbey – $8 million ($73.6 million total)
4. Hustlers – $6.3 million ($91.3 million total)
5. It: Chapter 2 – $5.4 million ($202.2 million total)
6. Ad Astra – $4.6 million (43.7 million total)
7. Judy – $4.4 million ($8.9 million total)
8. Rambo: Last Blood – $3.6 million ($33.2 million total)
9. War – $1.6 million ($1.6 million total)
10. Good Boys – $900,000 ($82 million total)

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Box Office, Joker, Judy, Jeremy Thomas