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Box Office: ‘Joker’ Has the Last Laugh With Record $96M U.S. Bow, $247M Globally


The nihilistic R-rated pic exceeded expectations despite heightened security at domestic theaters; it also raked in $151 million overseas.

Todd Phillips’ Joker had the last laugh in its box office debut, earning a huge $96 million domestically from 4,374 theaters to set a new opening record for the month of October despite heightened security at cinemas across the U.S.

That’s up from Sunday’s estimated $93.5 million, which was likewise a record. And international numbers came in notably higher than Sunday estimates, by more than $10 million.

The dark, R-rated supervillain movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as a mentally ill misfit turned homicidal maniac did even more business overseas, raking in $151 million from more than 70 markets for a global start of $247 million (it doesn’t yet have a release date in China). Both figures likewise set new benchmarks for the month.

In North America, Joker bested last year’s Venom, which started off with $80.3 million domestically. To boot, the controversial origin pic danced to the best three-day bow of all time for an R-rated title, as well as boasting the fifth-biggest weekend launch of 2019 to date. It is also Warner’ biggest debut in two years.

Joker — far from an ordinary superhero pic but an origin story laced with realism — has sparked widespread headlines and concern for its nihilistic themes and violence, prompting cinemas and police departments to ramp up security and remind patrons that face paint, masks and toy weapons aren’t allowed. Theaters are also checking IDs and informing guests that the film’s rating is a “hard R,” and that anyone under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult when buying a ticket.

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