Will Joker Make $1 Billion At The Box Office?

Joaquin Phoenix in makeup Joker arms raised on stairs

Will it, could it, should it -- what are Joker's chances of making $1 billion at the box office? What would've been laughed off just a few months ago seems potentially within reach three weeks into the release of star Joaquin Phoenix's movie.

Joker will 100% become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time very soon, but that would still put it more than $200 million away from The Billion Club.

Joker has been underestimated since it arrived, so I won't rule anything out. However, there are some reasons why it's unlikely Joker will reach $1 billion. Let's consider both sides.

Why Joker Will Make $1 Billion

Joker has already made more than $737.5 worldwide after three weeks. That's $247.2 million domestic and $490.3M international so far. Another $260M+ is nothing to sneeze at, but Joker has the potential to get there. (Sorry, Jared Leto.)

Joker is still playing on 4,090 domestic screens in its third weekend, which is a strong vote of confidence from theaters. It took #2 at the North American box office behind Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in Week 3, but $29,205,000 is still great for a third weekend, especially when it also faced new competition from Zombieland: Double Tap.

I'm not sure a comparison to Aquaman is fair, beyond both being DC movies, but just for reference, Aquaman had a not-too-impressive domestic opening of $67,873,522. Joker had a much more impressive opening of $96,202,337. Aquaman went on to become DC's first $1 billion baby, with $1.148 billion worldwide. Granted, most of that came from the foreign box office, and that could be where Joker falls short.

Joker was inspired by the famous DC comic book character, but it's definitely not a typical comic book movie. For one thing, the production budget was only around $55 million, per Box Office Mojo. But that Joker name value is definitely helping.

The rapturous "masterpiece" reviews that greeted the film when it first opened in Venice also helped. And then the backlash "controversy" DEFINITELY helped make Joker a must-see movie. Fans have embraced Joker as a cultural movement, seeing the movie multiple times and finding new things to consider with each viewing. It has sparked debates, heated or just passionate.

I'm not really trying to compare Joker to Avatar either, but it could potentially do something similar by just slowwwwly making a ton of money over many months. While Avengers: Endgame made huge money in a short burst, Avatar opened in December 2009 and didn't leave theaters until August 2010 (and also had a re-release, but never mind).

Avatar also made A TON of money overseas, though -- $2B there alone -- and, again, that is potentially where Joker will fall short of any chance of a $1 billion total.

Why Joker Won't Make $1 Billion

No R-rated movie has ever made $1 billion. That doesn't mean Joker couldn't -- nothing would match this movie better than beating the odds -- it just means the likelihood is lower. The highest-grossing R-rated movie worldwide is currently Deadpool 2 with $785,025,593.

Joker is going to destroy that record, for sure, but will it reach $1 billion?

Here's another snag: Per Deadline, Joker is not expected to see a China release. China is the second-biggest theatrical market in the world after the domestic U.S./Canada North American market. If that China situation changes, I'd say $1 billion would essentially be a lock. Joker is doing extremely well in other places overseas. It was the #1 Hollywood movie in 73 of its 79 markets last week.

Joker already passed most of the DCEU movies -- Shazam!, Justice League, and Man of Steel, with Suicide Squad's $746.8M to be defeated very soon.

The Billion Club has welcomed a lot of new members in the past few years, but we'll have to wait and see if Joker manages to join it or just come closer than any other R-rated movie. It doesn't "matter" if it reaches $1 billion or not -- it's a huge success either way -- but it would certainly be a statement on R-rated movies, atypical comic book movies, and the 2019 culture at large.

What do you think? Will Joker make $1 billion at the worldwide box office or not? Vote in the poll below, or just laugh off the idea if you're that way.

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Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.