Joker Box Office Champion

“Joker” Clowns Its Way to Record Opening


October 4-6, 2019

(estimates from


Joker $93.5 million
Abominable $12 million
Downton Abbey  $8 million
Hustlers $6.3 million
It: Chapter Two  $5.3 million

After all the bluster, the discourse, the freakouts, the mixed reviews, Joker delivered the biggest October opening of all time. Besting last year's debut of Venom by a comfortable margin, the Todd Phillips-directed origin story delivered a truly impressive $93.5 million. That's nearly as big an opening as Justice League, and this film didn't have the star power, the budget or the build-up. (It also didn't have the behind-the-scenes issues either.) This was DC Comics first R-rated film since their failed attempt to start their own inter-connected universe, and it's a raging success, especially considering it only cost a reported $50 million. With little competition this month, it should be one of October's highest grosser (and may even make more than Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil). It was also another much-needed hit for Warner Bros., which has had a string of flops aside from It: Chapter Two.

Abominable slid down to second place. Despite only a 41.8 percent drop, the film seems to already be fading from the public consciousness, as it's made only $37.8 million to date. Downton Abbey might be showing that's it's peaked already, as the film has made $73.6 million so far. While it's undoubtedly a hit, $100 million may be out of the question.

Hustlers is in sight of that milestone, though, as it's crossed $91 million thanks to taking in $6.3 million this weekend. For a film with an extremely modest $20 million, that's an incredible achievement. It: Chapter Two finally joined the $200 Million Club. It's the only film in that range at all, as it's sandwiched between Aladdin ($355 million) and Us ($175 million).

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: Pain and Glory, the new film from Pedro Almodóvar. Star Antonio Banderas has been getting the best reviews of his career, and the movie opened with a terrific $40,022 on its four screens.
  • My People, My Country, an anthology of vignettes about the history of China, had an absolutely astonishing debut. Premiering on just 70 screens, the film took in $865,000, good enough for 11th place.
  • Lucy in the Sky experienced failure to launch. The astronaut drama starring Natalie Portman opened on 37 screens, but made a pitiful $55,000.

Next week:

Can Will Smith bounce back and prove he's still an in-demand movie star? He's had a rough few years, and it doesn't look like Gemini Man is going to be his ticket back. The sci-fi/action flick should only manage about $25 million next week. That will be better than the new animated take on The Addams Family, which should earn about $20 million and Jexi, which is basically Her if it were written by The Hangover guys. That's looking to do $15 million at best. They'll all pale in comparison (pun not quite intended) to Joker's second week, which will have a big drop but still earn at least $40 million.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.