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Joaquin Phoenix's Joker dancing on the stairs

A big part of what makes comic book movies so successful, and in turn results in Hollywood making more and more of them, is their global appeal. Audiences all over the world show up for the latest superhero films helping them succeed at the box office. But this weekend’s Joker is not like other comic book movies, this is an R-rated character study. So will Joker be able to scare up money as an R-rated movie globally?

It seems like all the R-rating and all the controversy won’t do much, if anything, to stop audiences from seeing Joker the world over. Joker opens in most overseas territories starting on Wednesday this week with stragglers France and Germany getting the Joaquin Phoenix flick next week. All told, Todd Phillips’ origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime is looking to scare up a worldwide opening weekend of $155 million.

That $155 million would represent the second-best worldwide opening ever in October, following last year’s Venom. That Sony film blew past expectations to debut with $207.4 million globally in its opening weekend. Of that forecasted $155 million worldwide opening weekend, roughly $75 million should come from overseas.

For comparison, Venom opened to $118 overseas at today’s rates whereas the last big R-rated film, IT Chapter Two, opened to $85 million. In some ways, the closest analog to Joker is Logan, another serious R-rated film focused on an iconic comic book character. That James Mangold film did $86 million opening weekend overseas.

Joker is looking especially strong in Europe, with fantastic advance ticket sales and although France and Germany won’t contribute to this opening weekend, the major European markets are expected to support the film in a big way thanks in part to excellent word of mouth. Also looking to be huge for Joker are Japan and Mexico.

But while $75 million is the number Joker is tracking at overseas, the film’s hard-R nature and the fact that it doesn’t resemble most comic book movies makes tracking an even trickier proposition than usual, so don't be too surprised if Joker underperforms or blows tracking out of the water.

It should be noted that unlike Venom, which released in China about a month after its domestic debut, Joker is not expected to release in the Middle Kingdom due to the violence in the film. So whatever success Joker is to have abroad, it will come without the help of the world’s second-largest film market.

If you do the math and subtract Joker’s expected $75 million overseas from its $155 million worldwide opening, the film is forecasted to have an $80 million opening weekend domestically, according to Deadline. This is in line with the long-range tracking that had it between $60-$90 million but down from some more recent tracking that predicted a $103 million opening weekend.

Joker will open in 4,300 locations, a high for October, besting Venom by 50 theaters, and positioning Joker to potentially top Venom’s $80.25 million for the best domestic opening weekend in October ever. On the competition front, Joker is the only new wide release and it will be riding on the strength of largely positive reviews and high fan anticipation. Pre-sales have also been high on both Fandango and Atom Tickets.

Joker arrives in domestic theaters tonight with preview screenings starting at 4 p.m. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see what else is coming out the rest of this year.

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