Warner Bros.’ Joker has survived the intense controversy over its violent themes to take in an estimated $93.5 million in North American theaters this weekend, setting a record for an October release, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Joker provides the backstory for the rise of Batman’s maniacal nemesis, painting a dark and disturbing portrayal of a would-be stand-up comedian’s descent into madness.
Amid fears that it might inspire violence—a shooting at a 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado claimed 12 lives—some theaters provided extra security for the opening of Joker.
The film, directed by Todd Phillips (maker of The Hangover trilogy), has drawn tepid reviews; the Washington Post called it “grim, shallow (and) distractingly derivative.” But Hollywood Reporter said the R-rated film got a B+ CinemaScore rating and earned 69 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
Universal’s family-friendly Abominable placed a distant second at the box office, earning $12 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period in its second weekend. In third, at $8 million, was Focus Features’ Downton Abbey, the cinematic follow-up to the hit TV series about an upper-class family and their stately home in a changing Britain.
Hustlers, which stars Jennifer Lopez, a movie based on a true story about strippers who plot to steal from their wealthy clients in recession-hit New York, placed fourth, at $6.3 million.
And in fifth was horror film IT: Chapter Two at $5.4 million.