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What a movie year for DC, eh? Aquaman came out at the end of December 2018, and it wasn't clear right away that it would become the highest-grossing DC Comics movie to date. But that's what happened early in 2019. Now we're wrapping up the year, and Joker is already making a strong case to take DC's top title from Aquaman.
Will it happen? I didn't expect Joaquin Phoenix's Joker to pass $1 billion -- the first R-rated movie ever to do that -- so I'm not willing to shut down any future milestones. Aquaman and Joker are now fairly close at the box office, but it may be tough for Arthur Fleck to dethrone Arthur Curry. (Quick, DC, change Bruce Wayne's first name to Arthur for The Batman to ensure success!)
Here are the current box office amounts for both films, per Box Office Mojo, with the understanding that Joker is not done:
Joker (so far)
That puts the worldwide difference at around ... $112.4 million. That's not nothin'. Before Joker can top Aquaman it has to top The Dark Knight Rises, which was DC's highest-grossing movie before Aquaman. That worldwide total is below, and definitely something Joker could pass.
Joker just picked up another $2.8 million at the domestic box office this weekend. It is definitely slowing down here, but that doesn't mean it's done. Besides, you can see above that the big money has been from foreign markets.
But not China! That's what's still wild about Joker. It made that much without the help of China, aka the second-biggest box office market in the world after North America. China gave $291 million to Aquaman, and that may be the kind of thing that keeps The Clown Prince of Crime from stealing the crown from the king of Atlantis.
Aquaman was the first DCEU movie to hit $1 billion, and since Warner Bros.'s Joker isn't actually in the DCEU, Aquaman still has that particular title. However, there are several other DC films that passed $1 billion, they just didn't make as much as Aquaman.
Here are the worldwide grosses for the top DC superhero movies, not adjusted for inflation:
Aquaman - $1,148,161,807
The Dark Knight Rises - $1,084,939,099
Joker - $1,035,731,813 (so far)
The Dark Knight - $1,004,558,444
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - $873,634,919
Wonder Woman - $821,847,012
Suicide Squad - $746,846,894
Man of Steel - $668,045,518
Justice League - $657,924,295
Batman - $411,556,825
Batman Begins - $373,413,297
If those totals were adjusted for inflation, 2012's The Dark Knight Rises might give both Aquaman and Joker a run for their money. The good thing about Aquaman and Joker is that they were released within a year of each other, so ticket price inflation isn't really a factor.
Whether Joker does pass Aquaman or not, Warner Bros. must be thrilled with their recent comic book adaptations. They needed the wins after a few misses in 2019 -- including The Goldfinch, Shaft, The Kitchen, Blinded by the Light, and the relative-to-budget disappointment of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
No one is going to rap your knuckles if you're wrong, so why not go ahead and make your prediction: Will Joker pass Aquaman at the box office and become DC's new champion or not? Do you see a DC movie on the horizon that could top them both? [The Suicide Squad has entered the chat.]