After its bold and triumphant premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Golden Lion winner Joker goes out in most overseas markets Wednesday with previews starting stateside at 4 p.m. Thursday. All in, Todd Phillips’ R-rated origins take on Batman’s chief villain is set to post a global debut of $155M, which would be the second-best for October behind last year’s Venom ($207.4M).
Neither headlines about security threats at U.S. theaters, nor the pic’s R rating has slowed tracking forecasts, which still have the movie eyeing a October-record domestic opening of $80M+ at 4,300 locations, upsetting Venom‘s $80.25M. That theater count reps a new high for October, besting Venom‘s 4,250-venue launch last year. Should the Warner Bros-Village Roadshow co-production come in less than $80M, then it’s on the hands of non-fanboys and crossover audiences, who might find this tough pic about a deranged guy hard to swallow. It’s everything you heard the film would be: the DC universe meets Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Joker, the only wide release of the weekend, will play at all Imax, PLFs, Dine-Ins and motion seat venues.
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Joker is the second-most anticipated film among Atom Tickets moviegoers during the post-September period after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The pic is 77% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, enough to open a comic book movie. Advance ticket sales have been strong on Fandango, with Joker beating the presales of IT Chapter Two, Us and Venom on Atom.
Overseas exhibitors tell us that there are no violence concerns surrounding their showings of Joker. Prebookings in Europe are phenomenal, with great word-of-mouth. All in overseas — save France, Germany and China among majors — the film should generate a $75M opening this weekend, give or take. But sources agree that Joker is a tough one to call because of its hard-R nature and the fact that it’s not a straight-up superhero pic. The UK has given it a “15 and up” rating. The pic is unlikely to get a release date in China due to its heightened violence.
Among offshore comps, Venom opened to $118M in like-for-likes at today’s rates, while IT Chapter Two did $85M. Logan, an R-rated sort of deviation from the usual X-Men movies, did $86M. Another recent R-rated picture coming out of a major festival, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, bowed to $54M. Although Batman Begins is an older comp, it’s worth noting that the film did best in the UK, Mexico, Japan, Australia and France. Japan is expected to be big on Joker. Latin America leans into DC as well as horror, but it also likes family movies and it’s not certain if Joker is too dark to pop in the region. Count on Mexico and the European majors to provide plenty of support, however.
In terms of promotion, there’s hardly a better global media platform than Venice, which also provided the backdrop for a photo call and press conference. On September 1, the crew separately did an Italian press day. From there, the Paris premiere was held on September 23 and included a French press day. In London, the film debuted on September 25, followed by a UK and European press day. Joker also played to raves at Toronto and will play the New York Film Festival this week. The entire global road trip has propelled star Joaquin Phoenix to the tip of awards bloggers’ tongues as the leading contender for Best Actor this season.
In the states, top Thursday previews in October belong to Venom ($10M off shows that began at 5pm), Paranormal Activity 3 ($8M) and Universal/Blumhouse/Miramax’s Halloween ($7.7M) last year. Venom‘s Thursday repped a third of its $32.5M opening day, which turned out to be the second-best ever for the month after Halloween opened to $33M. Note, Venom was rated PG-13 while Halloween was rated R.