Box Office: JOKER breaks VENOM’s October opening record with $93.5 mill.

Welcome to the Beat’s weekly Weekend Box Office Recap!

There was a time when October was not considered to be a great month to release a movie. Those times, they are a-changin’, as a new October opening record was set this weekend by Todd Phillips’ Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. The controversial thriller, loosely based on the Batman villain, took in an estimated $93.5 million this weekend, passing the $80.2 million record set by Sony Pictures’ Venom just last year.

Joker seemed to be the only thing that anyone, at least in movie and comics circles, was talking about in the week leading up to New York Comic-Con, and people finally got to see it starting Thursday night as Joker took in $13.3 million in early previews. That was already more than the $10 million in previews brought in by the PG-13 Venom, giving an early sign that its record was going to be broken.

Joker topped Friday with $39.8 million in 4,374 theaters, which is more than the opening days for Captain America: the Winter Soldier ($36.9 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($37.8 million) but significantly less than DC Entertainment’s Suicide Squad ($64.9 million). The latter starred Jared Leto in the Joker role and ended up making $133.7 million its opening weekend.

Joker did even better overseas, grossing $140.5 million with South Korea being the top earner with $16.3 million, followed by the UK with $14.8 million and Mexico with $13.1 million. There are still many other territories in which the movie still has to open, such as China and Japan, but clearly, the violent thriller is playing well in foreign territories.

Reviews for Joker became increasingly more mixed as it got further away from its Venice Film Festival premiere where it won that illustrious fest’s top award – ComicBeat’s own Hannah Lodge wasn’t a fan – but the movie’s “B+” CInemaScore seems to show that audiences mostly enjoyed what easily could be considered a “difficult” movie.

We’ll have to wait and see how Joker‘s astounding opening plays out over the rest of the month, especially with Will Smith‘s Gemini Man opening next weekend, but Phoenix has a good chance of at least getting another Oscar nomination as the Joker. It might be harder for him to be the second actor to win an Oscar for the role following the late Heath Ledger.

DreamWorks Animation’s animated Abominable fell about 42% to second place with $12 million and $37.8 million total, a far cry from its reported $75 million production budget. It has made roughly the same amount overseas.

Third place went to Focus Features’ Downton Abbey with $8 million (down 44%) and a solid $73.6 million in just three weeks. The PBS follow-up has made $61 million overseas, and that $135 million worldwide gross has to be quite profitable for those responsible for making the film. Will they stop while they’re ahead or is Downton Abbey: the 2nd Movie a possibility?

Also continuing to do well is STXfilms’ Hustlers, starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez, as it adds another $6.3 million for fourth place, edging closer to $100 million domestic with $91.3 million so far. That movie cost roughly $20 million, so that’s two happy studios in a row.

New Line’s It: Chapter Two continues to hold up well for a horror sequel, dropping to fifth place with $5.4 million and crossing the $200 million mark with $202.5 million. That’s still quite a drop from the $327.5 million made by its 2017 predecessor but It is nearing $436 million worldwide

Brad Pitt‘s space epic Ad Astra (20th Century Fox) continues to drop out of orbit with $4.6 million in sixth place, a pretty big 55% decline and just $43.6 million grossed so far.

Roadside Attractions’ Judy Garland biopic Judy, starring Renée Zellwegger in what many feel may be another Oscar-winning performance, added nearly 1,000 more theaters on Friday, and though its $4.4 million was up 52% from its entry into the top 10, it held at #7, at least according to box office estimates. Still, it has grossed almost $9 million so far, and that’s for an independent biopic about a long-dead star, so there’s clearly still interest in Ms. Garland.

The Bollywood action-thriller War (Yash Raj) managed to make its way into the top 10 at #9 with $1.6 million in 305 theaters or $5,184 per theater after grossing another $507,000 on Wednesday and Thursday. A Chinese film called My People, My Country made a surprise appearance in the top 12, opening with $865,000 in just 70 theaters, an average of $12,437 per theater.

You might also notice that after an astounding 11 weeks, Disney’s The Lion King finally exited the top 10 but with $541 million domestic under its belt.

As far as other limited releases, Pedro Almodovar‘s Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics), featuring Antonio Banderas in an Oscar-worthy performance, opened in four theaters in New York and L.A. to $160,000, a terrific $40,000 per theater. Not doing as good was Noah Hawley’s Lucy in the Sky, starring Natalie Portmanwhich Fox Searchlight opened in 37 theaters for it to make just $55,000, an awful $1,486 per theater, which is not a good start for a possible expansion. It didn’t help that critics trashed the movie out of the Toronto Film Festival, compared the praise for Almodovar’s film.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Joker Warner Bros. $93.5 million N/A $93.5 million
2 1 Abominable Universal $12 million -42% $37.8 million
3 2 Downton Abbey Focus Features $8 million -44% $73.6 million
4 3 Hustlers STXfilms $6.3 million -45% $91.3 million
5 4 It: Chapter Two New Line/WB $5.3 million -48% $202.2 million
6 5 Ad Astra 20th Century Fox $4.6 million -55% $43.7 million
7 7 Judy Roadside Attractions $4.4 million +52% $8.9 million
8 6 Rambo: Last Blood Lionsgate $3.6 million -59%
$39.8 million
9 New War Yash Raj Films $1.6 million N/A $2.1 million
10 8 Good Boys Universal $900,000  -57% $82 million

As mentioned above, Sony’s Venom topped the box office this weekend last year with $80.2 million but Bradley Cooper‘s A Star is Born, co-starring Lady Gaga, opened in second place with $43 million. That’s $123 million between those two movies alone, so obviously this week’s top 10 with its estimated $134.8 million was going to be down quite significantly. Actually, it was down about $30 million give or take.

Check back on Wednesday for my weekly Box Office Preview which will look at Will Smith‘s new action movie Gemini Man, the animated The Addams Family and the Siri-inspired rom-com Jexi, starring Adam Devine from Workaholics.


  1. No surprise this is making money, considering how many young (or youngish) guys are boasting online about seeing this 2 or 3 times in its first weekend.

    See AD ASTRA.

  2. I saw Ad Astra and Downton Abbey this weekend (8:15 Friday and 9:15 Saturday, respectively) at the dying ’80s multiplex near me. Ad Astra had a thin dozenish people. But Downton Abbey was a new experience for me: Seeing a film in the cinema entirely alone! I saw Amazing Grace earlier this year with just one other person in the room (not someone with me).

    Unfortunately both films disappointed. Downton Abbey had exactly the establishment conservative paternalistic One-Nation Tory politics I expected, but it was even more over the top than the TV show was, earning quite a few eye rolls from me. But Ad Astra was the bigger disappointment. It set itself up as hard SF, but then was pretty vacuous. Just as one example, gravity seemed to come and go as convenient for the story when they were on the moon, on mars, and travelling through space.

  3. “It set itself up as hard SF”

    I didn’t get the impression at all. AD ASTRA is an art film/mood piece that takes place mainly inside the Brad Pitt character’s head. It was about mood and atmosphere, not SF (hard or otherwise). It worked for me — and it was much better than the somewhat similar INTERSTELLAR.

  4. I like this sarcastic tweet from Mark Harris:

    “Congratulations to Joker, a well-funded studio movie with an eight-figure marketing campaign and a 4000-plus-screen opening, on its gigantic come-from-behind underdog little-guy victory over….mildly dissenting tweets.

    “Really, it’s like the end of Rocky. Well, Rocky II.”

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