No Joke, Joker Is Now Tracking For A Record $100 Million Opening Weekend

Joaquin Phoenix laughing in Joker
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

Joker isn’t your typical movie starring a legendary comic book icon. It’s a dramatic character study starring Joaquin Phoenix, with roots in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and King of Comedy. It promises not to follow the source material or include any face-offs between him and Batman. Yet, it seems Joker is now garnering enough buzz to debut like its DC Comic counterparts – actually better.

Since Joker premiered at Venice Film Festival to rave reviews boasting the drama as a “masterpiece," box office projections have risen to a range of $85 to $105 million opening weekend. Box Office Pro’s current 3-day opening forecast is $103 million, a figure that rose 27% since last week.

Since then, Joker’s buzz was amped by critics: CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg gave the film 4.5 stars among its current 85% Rotten Tomatoes score pulled from a count of almost 50 reviews. Just last month, Joker was tracking at a much lower $60 to $90 million debut, which would still mark a win for the Todd Phillips-helmed project.

These box office projections set up the Clown Prince of Crime to potentially top Venom’s October box-office record and become one of the most successful R-rated debuts to date. Sony’s Spider-Verse first entry opened with $80.3 million, shattering Gravity’s previous top spot with its $55.7 million debut. If Joker debuts on the low side of these numbers, it will still cross Venom’s record after just one year in its spot.

Among R-rated releases, a $85-$105 million range would place Joker among the Top 10 opening weekends ever for a movie with this MPAA rating. The Deadpool films currently hold the top spots, with the 2016 blockbuster at $132.4 million and the 2018 follow-up at $125 million. It doesn’t look like Joker will beat out the Merc with the Mouth, but has potential to finding a top five spot among the It films and Matrix Reloaded.

Joker could also laugh off the opening numbers of his comic book counterparts in 2019, such as Shazam’s $53 million opening and Spider-Man: Far From Home’s $92 million debut. Of course, Spidey went on to break $1 billion and become the highest-grossing film for the webslinger in history, so Joker’s projections mark some serious potential for the small-scale drama that was produced on a roughly $55 million budget.

The October release has a few other promising aspects going for it that may help it become a blockbuster. Joker stars a tried-and-true great performer in Joaquin Phoenix, along with a talented cast including Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Marc Maron, Brett Cullen, Frances Conroy, and Brian Tyree Henry. Although it’s said to standalone from the DCEU, Robert Pattinson let some comments slip that have fans thinking there’s a Joker/Batman crossover in the works.

Joker hits theaters on October 4, 2019.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.