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Todd Phillips’ R-rated DC villain movie Joker arrived on tracking today with an indexed first choice among all audiences in the low 20s among moviegoers that exceeded a mix of both superhero movies and R-rated fare including Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, It, It Chapter Two, Logan, Venom, Halloween, Us, John Wick Chapter 3 and more. That’s a huge number and speaks to Warner Bros.’ cool, hip positioning of this very dark take on the most notorious villain in the Batman canon, plus the great critical momentum that Joker has accumulated coming out of the fall film festival season, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, notching a 78% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score out of TIFF along with Joaquin Phoenix solidifying himself as the leading best actor contender this awards season.
All of this suggests an average opening of $90M off one B.O. projection service’s report, which would rep a new opening record for the month of October, beating last October’s Venom ($80.2M). Another tracking service this morning had Joker‘s opening at $82M. Yes, Venom was a PG-13 rated film. However, two weekends later, Universal’s Halloween, a R-rated movie, became October’s second best debut of all-time with $76.2M. So, it’s possible that Joker can get to that $90M level. At present, Joker is a male-driven movie with a first choice male 25+ figure as high as Batman v. Superman and 3x John Wick Chapter 3, and a male under 25 figure also a tad higher than BvS, and double Logan‘s.
Keep in mind, Joker is a very different R-rated comic-book film, and Phillips (and Phoenix) portray the subject matter in such a realistic means, it’s easy for a moviegoer to forget it’s a Batman movie. We had heard earlier this week from those close to Joker that an opening in the $65M-$80M range is more the expectation, and that just might be the case once fanboys walk away from this film. Again, the lofty projection now speaks to Warner’s ability to excite moviegoers: This past weekend if you were sitting in a showing of It Chapter Two, it wasn’t unusual to hear positive buzz in the auditorium after the Joker trailer played.
In recent B.O. history, many like to give credit to Fox’s Deadpool and Logan for upping comic book fare to a R-rated level. However, before those pics, Warners released DC’s Watchmen and Dark Horse’s 300 with R-ratings that respectively opened to $55.2M and $70.9M.