It’s official ladies and gentleman, there’s a new king of the r-rated box office, and he’s a clown.
That’s right, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s JOKER, has become the highest grossing r-rated movie in history. Domestically, the film earned $2.4 million on Thursday, bringing its 21-day total to $258.675 million. Provided it maintains its current 32.9/66.1 domestic/overseas split, the film will pass 2016’s Deadpool and gross a worldwide total of $785.5 million.
Joker tops Logan ($619 million), Deadpool 2 ($785 million), and Deadpool ($782 million), and becomes the latest r-rated comic book film to generate success amongst the general audience. But, considering the other three films, Joker was a much bigger risk, especially considering the controversy surrounding it.
Logan has the backing of Hugh Jackman, and the X-Men franchise, which had built Wolverine has the series’ central character. When it was announced that the film would be Jackman’s “one last ride” with the character, it was almost guaranteed that the film would be a bigger success than the character’s previous solo outings.
Deadpool is the unofficial start to the r-rated superhero film trend, as his 2016 was marked with ultra-violent action, constant vulgarity, and crude humour that resulted in one of the year’s biggest crowd-pleasers. Deadpool 2 was a much safer bet, going bigger, and in my opinion, better with the story, resulting in similar critical and commerical acclaim.
Joker is a different beast. The film, even before being officially confirmed, was labeled as unnecessary, and was questioned for giving an origin story to a character that never “really” had one (sans Killing Joke). The news of Joaquin Phoenix eased some fans’ minds, but most were still skeptical until the first trailer dropped. At this point, fans were intrigued at how gritty Gotham looked, and how a regular schmuck like Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck could become so mad.
Upon its debut at Venice Film Festival, the film received critical acclaim, with those in attendance giving the filmmakers a standing ovation. But fans, and various media outlets, began to wonder if the film, which centered on a beaten down man giving in to madness, would cause violence amongst moviegoers. Many claimed that the film would act a inspiration for someone to become violent.
If it wasn’t clear before, this didn’t happen.
Audiences came out in huge numbers for Joker, praising it for its depiction of a man beaten down by society, saying that the film actually acts a message of mental health. Whether it delivers that message successfully is up to each viewer, but what is a fact is that audiences loved Joker, and its $785.5 million box office haul proves that.
The biggest thing to come out of this is that, if there were any doubts about superhero film domination in other genres, those were now put to rest. The current stronghold of Marvel and DC on the film industry stretches to “art-house” cinema, and it seems that the domination will not stop here. Both companies are becoming more confident in stretching the lines of their film outputs. Could we see more films like Joker and Logan? If the box office has anything to say, it’s a resounding yes.