'Joker' sets records with near £200m opening weekend

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (Credit: Warner Bros)

Joker smashed estimated box office projections at the weekend, opening to nearly £200 million worldwide.

In the US, it made $93.5m – around £76m – the biggest October opening ever, and the fourth biggest for an R-rated movie, convincingly beating Venom's $80.2m opening last year.

In the UK alone, it made £12.6 million, making it the fifth highest opening of the year so far.

It even came perilously close to beating Justice League's opening of $93.8m in 2017, a DC Comics movie released without the restriction of an R-rating, according to Box Office Mojo.

Read more: Famous actors who almost played the Joker

Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, who made the Hangover comedies, finds Joaquin Phoenix playing unravelling stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck, who becomes the Joker, Batman's nemesis.

Controversy has surrounded the movie in recent weeks after it became the focus of criticism in the ongoing debate about violence in the movies.

Its subject matter was linked to growing concerns over “incel” terrorism, the name given to the online subculture of “involuntary celibates”, which concerns itself with narratives of misogyny and male supremacy.

It was also linked to a 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, after the cinema where the shooting took place said it would not be showing the new movie.

Families of the victims of the 2012 shooting signed a letter to Warner Bros calling for more “social responsibility” when it comes to depicting violence in movies.

Read more: Media debate could ‘promote’ Joker violence says Marc Maron

The shooter, James Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a screening of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.

Initial reporting claimed because he had luridly dyed hair that he was emulating the Joker character from a previous Batman movie, but law enforcement later debunked the claims.

Director Phillips has said he's been shocked by the fixation on the film's violence, while movies like the John Wick series appear to be celebrated for it.

Phoenix also walked out of an interview in which he was challenged about it.

He later returned, saying he had panicked because it was something that he had not considered.

Joker is out now across the UK.