IndieWire box office reporter Tom Brueggemann wrote in the middle of October that Warner Bros.’ revisionist comic book drama “Joker” could be headed near or past the coveted $1 billion at the worldwide box office. One month later, “Joker” is all but destined to join the $1 billion club, no small feat for an R-rated movie that trades in standard action beats for more character-focused drama. A new report from Forbes’ senior contributor Scott Mendelson says “Joker” will be near $957 million worldwide by the end of November 8, making $1 billion all but assured. More importantly, “Joker” has become the most profitable comic book film ever released.
With a reported production budget of $62.5 million, “Joker” has so far earned just over 15 times its cost and counting 15.3x if we’re being exact. Forbes reports that multiplier makes “Joker” more profitable than any other comic book release in terms of budget versus global gross. “Joker” has surpassed the likes of profitable comic book films “Venom” $854 million box office/$90 million budget, Tim Burton’s “Batman” $411 million/$35 million, “Deadpool” $783 million/$58 million, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” $200 million/$13.5 million, and “The Mask” $351 million/$23 million.
Moreover, when “Joker” crosses $1 billion sometime this month it will be the cheapest movie to do so. Most $1 billion grossers are massive studio tentpoles with budgets above $100 million see all of the Marvel movies for an example. According to Forbes, “Jurassic Park” is currently the cheapest $1 billion grosser with a $63 million production budget.
“Joker’s” box office success around the world has been unprecedented. The movie was always going to catch the eye of comic book movie fans because of its source material, but the casting of Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and the movie’s awards bona fides Phoenix is a Best Actor frontrunner and the film picked up the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival have made “Joker” appointment viewing for the non-comic book crowd as well.
In the U.S., “Joker” has held on at the box office stronger than many of its comic book movie contemporaries. “Joker” has never had a drop above the 50% mark since opening October 4. In recent weeks, the Todd Phillips-directed film has dropped just 29% from weekend to weekend. The film continues to play nationwide and its box office should only hang on once nominations for Phoenix start being announced.
In the final moments of Joker, after being hailed as a hero by his rioting followers one of whom kills Thomas and Martha Wayne, which I’m sure won’t have an impact on their young son Bruce, Arthur Fleck is sent to Arkham Asylum. He can’t stop laughing. “What’s so funny?” his psychiatrist asks him. “Just thinking of a joke,” one that she wouldn’t get. We never learn what the joke is, either, although there’s been speculation that the joke is on us, the audience, for thinking what we witnessed actually happened; maybe it was all in Arthur’s head? If The Dark Knight taught us anything, it’s that Batman doesn’t wear hockey pants, and that Joker is not the most reliable narrator.
Todd Phillips, who wrote Joker, has said “there’s a lot of ways you could look at this movie. You could look at it and go, this is just one of his multiple-choice stories. None of it happened. I don’t want to say what it is. But a lot of people I’ve shown it to have said, oh, I get it — he’s just made up a story. The whole movie is the joke. It’s this thing this guy in Arkham Asylum concocted. He might not even be the Joker.” Maybe we can get a clear answer by going straight to the source: Phillips’ screenplay available here.
The key section:
He’s sitting across from an overworked HOSPITAL DOCTOR 50’s, African American woman. Somehow it’s the exact same room Joker imagined his mother was in some 30 years ago. The room and the doctor also look vaguely similar to the social worker and her office in the opening scene.
The “somehow” and “vaguely similar” phrasings are doing a lot of the work, but that paragraph which, as Digital Spy notes, isn’t from the final draft, but “so it would be pretty close to what they started filming with” tips the scale towards a dream-like “Arthur made it up.” Then again, why would he go out of his way to turn the Sophie reveal a twist, as he’d presumably want to continue the lie? Or maybe it’s both! Phillips won’t ever say for sure, of course, so it’s up for the audience to decide. Joke’s on us.
'Last Christmas' and 'Midway' also open nationwide over the crowded weekend, while 'Honey Boy' launches in select cinemas.
Unless there's an upset, Warner Bros.' R-rated horror pic Doctor Sleep — a sequel to Stephen King's The Shining — should win the weekend box office race with a debut of $25 million or more.
The adaptation of King's 2013 novel of the same name is set decades after the events of The Shining, and follows a grown up Danny Ewan McGregor as he grapples with his psychic abilities and the trauma of the past.
Doctor Sleep, also starring Rebecca Ferguson and newcomer Kyliegh, is directed by Mike Flanagan and opens 39 years after The Shining hit theaters.
The R-rated horror-thriller is hardly the only fresh offering as a cluster of titles open over Veteran's Day weekend and in advance of the crowded Thanksgiving corridor. One is even holiday-themed — Paul Feig's romantic comedy Last Christmas.
From Universal and inspired by the George Michael song of the same name, Last Christmas stars Emilia Clarke as troubled artist whose fortunes start to change when a young man, played by Henry Golding, begins appearing in her life. Emma Thompson and Michelle Yeoh also star. Golding and Yeoh also starred in the blockbuster rom com Crazy Rich Asians.
Tracking shows Last Christmas opening in the mid-teens, but the pic could overperform.
The same applies to Roland Emmerich's big-budget World War II epic Midway, which is presently tracking to launch in the low- to mid-teens. The $100 million indie stars Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Ed Skrein and Nick Jones. Lionsgate timed the release of the film to Veteran's Day.
The fourth new release of the weekend is Paramount and Walden Media's PG family friendly Playing With Fire, starring John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane as a group of firefighters who face their most challenging job yet — babysitting. Brianna Hildebrand also stars in the Andy Fickman-directed film, which is tracking to debut to $7 million to $10 million.
At the specialty box office, Amazon Studios opens the critically acclaimed Honey Boy in select theaters. The awards contender, written by and starring Shia LeBeouf, is directed by Alma Har'el.
Last weekend saw Terminator: Dark Fate claim the top spot at the U.S. box office, but its reign as champ will be short-lived, much to the dismay of Paramount Pictures and everyone else involved. This weekend sees four newcomers enter the fold in the form of Warner Bros.' Doctor Sleep, Universal's Last Christmas, Lionsgate's Midway and Paramount's Playing With Fire. Safe to say, it's going to make for a crowded weekend.
Doctor Sleep, directed by Mike Flanagan Gerald's Game, The Haunting of Hill House serves as a sequel to The Shining, both Stanley Kubrick's movie and Stephen King's novel. It's an ambitious undertaking, but one that looks to pay off as the horror flick, which stars Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, is expected to bring in between $25 and $30 million on opening weekend. That box office number could be bolstered as reviews for this one have been quite good so far. It currently boasts a 74 percent critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, to go with a stellar 95 percent audience score. The new golden age of King lives on.
Next up, Paramount looks to get a jump on the holiday season with Last Christmas, the latest from director Paul Feig Bridesmaids. The holiday romcom is toplined by a couple of hot stars in Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, with Emma Thompson also included in the ensemble. Despite middling reviews thus far, the Christmas flick is looking at a debut between $15 and $19 million. Considering this one could have long legs up through the end of the year, this could be another winner for Paramount in 2019.
Related: Doctor Sleep Runtime Promises Another Stephen King Epic
Midway, a large-scale World War II epic from Roland Emmerich Independence Day faces an uncertain long-term fate. Estimates have it taking in around $15 million, which isn't great considering the $100 million production budget, which Emmerich raised outside the studio system, essentially making it one of the most expensive independent movies ever made. If overseas audiences turn up, this could work out, but things aren't looking great. The cast includes Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson and Woody Harrellson.
Rounding out the top five will be Terminator: Dark Fate, which is going to stumble with between $13 and $14 million, further cementing it as one of the biggest bombs of the year. Playing with Fire, a family-friendly comedy starring John Cena, will get off to a middling start with between $7 and $10 million. Elsewhere, Netflix's The Irishman expands to several key markets across the country and Fox Searchlight's Jojo Rabbit, a likely Oscar hopeful from director Taika Waititi, also will expand to more than 250 screens. Be sure to check out our full list of weekend box office predictions below and check back with us on Sunday for the weekend estimates. Numbers used in this report were provided by Box Office Mojo.
1 Doctor Sleep2 Last Christmas3 Midway4Terminator: Dark Fate5Playing with Fire6Joker7Maleficent: Mistress of Evil8Harriet9The Addams Family10Zombieland Double Tap
, , ] HomeBox OfficeDoctor Sleep, Last Christmas & Midway Enter 3-Way Battle for the Box Office
On the November 6, 2019 episode of /Film Daily, /Film editor in chief Peter Sciretta is joined by /Film senior writer Ben Pearson and writer Chris Evangelista to talk about the latest film and tv news, including The Batman, Spider-Man, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Witcher, and Joker.
>Opening Banter: Water Cooler tomorrow as HT is away on a set visit.
In The News:
Ben: ‘The Batman’: Andy Serkis is in Talks to Play Alfred, Who Probably Won’t Be a Motion Capture Gorilla Chris: ‘The Batman’ Wants Colin Farrell to Spread His Flightless Wings and Play The Penguin Ben: Japanese Spider-Man Coming to ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ Sequel, Says Phil Lord Chris: What Happened to Rick Dalton After ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’? Quentin Tarantino Has Some Ideas Chris: ‘The Witcher’ Showrunner Has Seven Seasons Planned Spoiler Warning Ben: ‘Joker’ Director Todd Phillips Gives the Definitive Answer About What Happens to Zazie Beetz’s Character
Other Articles Mentioned:
All the other stuff you need to know:
You can find more about all the stories we mentioned on today’s show at slashfilm.com, and linked inside the show notes. /Film Daily is published every weekday, bringing you the most exciting news from the world of movies and television as well as deeper dives into the great features from slashfilm.com. You can subscribe to /Film Daily on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the popular podcast apps RSS. Send your feedback, questions, comments and concerns to us at [email protected] Please leave your name and general geographic location in case we mention the e-mail on the air. Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes, tell your friends and spread the word! Thanks to Sam Hume for our logo.
One of the questions people have after watching Joker is, “What happened to Zazie Beetz‘s character?” Without spoiling anything yet, we’ll just say that her fate is left somewhat ambiguous in the final cut of the movie. But now director and co-writer Todd Phillips is coming in to provide a definitive answer about her fate.
One of the scariest scenes in Joker is when Beetz’s character Sophie puts her daughter to bed and emerges into her apartment’s living room, only to discover Arthur Fleck Joaquin Phoenix sitting on her couch. The film reveals that the romantic relationship we’ve seen between those two characters was completely in Arthur’s head, and Sophie is terrified that he might hurt her or her daughter. Arthur leaves the room, but because the movie never explicitly shows what happens to Sophie she’s never seen on screen again, it has left some people wondering if Arthur may have killed her.
Fear not, because Phillips says she lives. In an interview with IndieWire, he explains:
“He doesn’t kill her. Definitively. As the filmmaker and the writer, I’m saying he doesn’t kill her. We like the idea that it’s almost like a little bit of a litmus test for an audience to say, ‘OK, well how crazy is he?’ And most people that I’ve spoken to think he didn’t kill her because they understand this idea that he’s only killed people that did him wrong, so to speak. That have fucked him over. She had nothing to do with it. Most people understood that he was living by – even as a villain – a certain code. We thought when he kisses Gary on the head, the little actor, and he runs off, he clearly has a code he lives by. Of course he didn’t kill this woman down the hall and her child.”
He goes on to say that he cut a scene later in the movie in which Sophie is watching the Murray Franklin episode where Joker shoots the host on the air, and that the reason he removed it was because the entire movie is told through Arthur’s perspective and it would “literally change the DNA of the film” if he shifted to someone else’s POV as they witnessed those events. Makes sense.
That said, we should point out that a filmmaker and writer can say whatever they want about a movie after the fact, but if it’s not within the text of the film, it doesn’t quite “count” in the same way as the audience seeing something that’s literally depicted on screen. Sure, they’re the ones who made the movie, but once it goes out into the world, the way people interpret it is not in their hands anymore. I think Phillips’ justification makes sense, but if he didn’t want people possibly misinterpreting Sophie’s fate, he could have chosen to frame her into the background of the shot when Arthur leaves her place to eliminate any confusion. There’s enough edge and intensity in Phoenix’s performance during this downward spiral in the film for the idea that he snapped and killed her to be conceivable, so I understand how people might walk away thinking the worst.