Films

Warner Bros. Laughing All The Way To The Bank With Joker: $93.5M-$95M+ Debut Reps Records For October, Todd Phillips, Joaquin Phoenix & Robert De Niro

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Updated, Sunday Writethru: w/chart…Since Thursday night, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Bron Studios Joker has over-indexed at the box office. On Friday night, industry estimates had it at $94M, with Warner Bros. reporting a $39.7M opening day, and the town is now seeing an opening thats north of $95M.

Warners number this morning is $93.5M, predicting a $21M Sunday. However, given the momentum of this film, its apt to go higher. Saturday did very well with $32.7M, -18% from Friday. Final endgame for Joker is around $265M domestic, which is more than Venom a year ago, which finaled at $213.5M.

Worldwide, Joker squashes Venoms global opening record of $207.4M with $234M, as overseas raked in $140.5M from 73 offshore territories.

CinemaScore audiences gave Joker a B+ grade on Friday night, with Screen Engine/Comscores PostTrak exits still showing 4 stars and a 60% definite recommend. Between the box office over-performing and these solid exits, all of this counters any anecdotal news about “walkouts around the world,” or cash being left on the table due to security fears. In fact, if you back out the $13.3M record October previews from Jokers Friday (which would make it $26.6M), Saturday is technically up a huge 23%.

For director Todd Phillips, Joker reps a career opening record, besting the 3-day domestic start of The Hangover 2 ($85.9M). Its also an opening record for Joaquin Phoenix, far exceeding the $60.1M 2002 opening of Signs, and a great major studio comeback for the three-time Oscar nominee, who has starred of late in a string of indie pics like Mary Magdalene, the Sisters Brothers and You Were Never Really Here. And for Robert De Niro, even though hes a supporting player in this, Joker reps his biggest domestic B.O. opening of all-time, ahead of Shark Tale ($47.6M).

Joker was huge everywhere, with bigger figures on the coast and South-West. Eight of the top 10 runs came from New York and Los Angeles according to sources. IMAX and PLF screens accounted for 26% of the weekends business.

From a distance, some rival studio insiders may say that Warners always had this edgy R-rated DC movie from its Hangover director Phillips and producers Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff in the bag; that it was an easy 3-point shot at the B.O., with the groundswell of raves out of TIFF and Venice, the Golden Lion win at the latter, and trackings full-on belief in a $80M-$90M opening.

But with Universal pulling its Blue State vs. Red State Blumhouse thriller The Hunt from theaters in the wake of a spree of late summer mass shootings, it was truly unpredictable how audiences and fanboys would respond to Joker for myriad reasons.

Not so much because of theater safety. Rather, because Joker takes itself very seriously as a movie, more than any comic-book movie before it. There was always a sense of fantasy in the Christopher Nolan movies, as grounded as they were in their live location settings and gravitas. But here in Joker, Phillips and Phoenix sincerely portray the mind of a twisted, disenfranchised person living in the slums of a 1980s Gotham, a casualty of Reagan economics social service funding cuts for every detail of its reality. Its haunting. As Ive mentioned continually, you forget youre watching a Batman movie. The pic is so entrenched in how society can bring out the ugly in a person when theyre down in the dumps, with severe repercussions.

After fanboys and critics complained that Zack Snyders Batman v. Superman (B CinemaScore, 28% Rotten Tomatoes) was too dark, too slow, which prompted Warners to make the first Suicide Squad more fun in its reshoots, how, then, were moviegoers going to react to Joker? Without spoiling anything, arguably Arthur Fleck, aka Joker, is a less redeeming character than Robert De Niros Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. Despite Bickles loner attitude, he makes a play in the end to save Jodie Fosters Iris from the ill people in her life. Arthur isnt that heroic, but rather backs himself into a situation where hes an anarchist. Still, watching Phoenix getting lost in the part, plus Phillips gorgeous retro illustration of a 1980s inspired New York City, make Joker a very intriguing ride.

A tad more under 25ers came out versus Thursday in updated Friday polls at 38% versus 33%, though 25+ still dominates at 62%. Overall, 18-34 represented 68% of all Joker ticket buyers. Men under 25 (23%) still love Joker the most at 92% along with females under 25 (14%) at 87%, with Men 25+ still leading (41% with an 81% grade) and women 25+ the third biggest demo of the night at 22% and the least-impressed of the four quads at 79%. Updated diversity demos show Hispanics (24% and a 93% grade) and Asians (14% and a 91% grade) giving Joker a bigger thumbs-up over Caucasians (44%, 81% grade) and African Americans (18% and a 74% grade).

In regards to how Joker stacks up to other R-rated comic-book movies on CinemaScore, its above Warner Bros. Watchmen (B), and below Foxs Logan (A-) and two Deadpool movies (both As). Cinemascore, like PostTrak, showed the younger demos enjoying Joker more with 32% of the under 25 set giving it an A-, and 66% of the under 35 demo giving it that grade as well.

Joker wins at Venice Film Festival

Many sources tell me that when it comes to Jokers success, a lot of credit is owed to Warner Bros. president, worldwide marketing of pictures and home entertainment, Blair Rich. Im told that she saw how Joker could be sold before Phillips shot a single frame. Her talent for positioning films in the market, and cutting through the noise with riveting one-sheet and billboard imagery, goes all the way back to 300. The story is that the fate of that visual avant-garde $65M spartan production (which the studio allegedly didnt get at the time) changed the day Rich showed up to the set in Canada. She saw the pre-production drawings, and immediately understand what Snyder and his team were trying to do. The pic opened to a massive $70.9M stateside in March 2007, and finaled at $210.6M domestic, $456M worldwide. I hear that its Rich who encouraged distribution to find a release date for Joker that was in the prime spot of awards season given Jokers prestige value.

Not to dismiss the hard work of others in the Warner Bros. team in regards to this success, but an all-hands-on-deck calculated passion and attitude was employed by all key departments, from production to US domestic distribution boss Jeff Goldstein, to launch this pic. Rather than deploy this film at San Diego Comic-Con, an audacious play was made here to position this pic as an awards season darling by blasting it off at the fall film festivals. And, well, mission accomplished.

Says RelishMix in their latest social media analytics report, “Its fair to say that when a casual moviegoer thinks about Joker or any superhero/comic book related film, they dont really associate these movies with prestigious film festivals and references about awards season. But, when Joker won the Golden Lion, the online discussion changed dramatically.”

Joker was sold in its imagery as a hip, cool film with shots of Phoenix dancing down steps, and the the first trailer dropped out of CinemaCon back in April showed that Joker was the comic-book movie youve never seen before, especially at a time when James Mangold, Taika Waititi and James Gunn have changed the game; the Phillips film possessed a fun, yet, dark, Scorsese-meets-Frank Miller sensibility.

RelishMix reports that Jokers social media universe counts 480M across Facebook, YouTube views, Twitter, Instagram, which though is lower than the standard 654M opening weekend SMU for a comic-book movie, touts an extraordinary 244:1 earned/owned viral rate off two clips on Warners YouTube channel. “These two clips scored an immense volume of engagement, spurred by fan comparisons to other portrayals of the character, and how this film would stand out in tone and story. But the question becomes, is this a superhero movie? When looking at drama/thrillers usual YT views, Joker at 82K again exceeds the average of 22K. The films SMU also outstrips the 82.8M average for a drama/thriller in its opening week.”

“This film deserves a lot of credit for its social campaign, which teased the audience from the very start. For comparison, Joker has only 16 official clips on its Facebook page and two on WBs official YT Channel – which is extremely close to the vest compared to other superhero or action/adventure films. That said, this is one of the most socially engaging films of the year,” further praises RelishMix.

Warners reduced its risk on the movie with two financial partners, Village Roadshow at 25% and Bron Studios at 25%. We hear Joker cost $70M before global P&A of $120M, but others contend that its net cost is in the low $60M range.

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IMAX hubs saw their best October opening ever around the world with $16.4M from Joker. Broken out thats $7.4M stateside and $9M abroad from 367 screens in 67 markets. Stateside, IMAX Joker runs are the third best for the large format exhibitor for October behind Warners Gravity ($11.8M) and Sonys Venom ($8.4M).

Elsewhere at the box office, two Bollywood films have slotted in the 9th and 10th spots of the chart with Siddharth Anands War from Yash Raj earning $1.5M ($2M over 5 days) and Surrender Reddys Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy from Konidela/Sarke Studio making $932K ($2.2M over 5). War pits two of Indias biggest action superstars, Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff, in a massive showdown against each other with death-defying action stunts. The film follows an Indian soldier who is assigned to eliminate his former mentor, who had gone rogue. Sye Raa is a historical action epic inspired by the life of Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy, who revolted against the atrocities of East India Company 10 years before the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, which was a major threat to British power in the region.

Other notables on the indie side include Sony Pictures Classics Pedro Almodovar movie Pain and Glory which won best actor for Antonia Banderas at Cannes. The pic propelled by a 96% Certified fresh rating on RT had the weekends highest per theater with $40K and a 3-day of $160K from 4 theaters: New Yorks Angelika and Landmark 57th ST, and Los Angeles Landmark and Arclight Hollywood. We hear the Angelika was strong on Friday and Saturday with $17K and $27K.

Fox Searchlights Natalie Portman astronaut movie Lucy in the Sky which debuted in five markets at 37 theaters earning an estimated $55K for a $1,4K theater average. We hear the numbers were terrible for this movie by Fargo creator Hawley. Critics smack down of this movie following TIFF at 27% Rotten eliminated any kind of gravity for this pic at the box office.

Netflix also opened their Eddie Murphy movie Dolemite Is My Name which is 98% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes about blaxploitation star and comedian Rudy Ray Moore. Theres no clear idea on the run count for the film or grosses as the streamer doesnt report, but exhibition sources say attendance was very soft.

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The top 10 based on Friday night industry estimates :

Updated, Friday midday: Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Brons R-rated Joker from Todd Phillips is having no problems breaking October box office records. After beating Venoms October preview record of $10 million with a $13.3M haul last night, Joker is on his way to busting a new three-day high for the month of $92M after a $39M opening day (which includes those previews).

Yes, thats an opening-day record for October too, besting Halloweens $33M. If Jokers three-day estimates remain serious, it will mark the fourth-highest opening for a R-rated pic of all time after Foxs Deadpool ($132.4M), Deadpool 2 ($125.5M) and New Line/Warner Bros It ($123.4M). TBD how high this pic goes…or recesses. Whats clear is that just because a comic-book inspired movie is rated R, doesnt mean its bad business. Moviegoers are thirsting for, and heading to, grittier comic-book movies.

Warners can breath a sigh of relief, especially in the wake of theater security concerns, and a handful of Aurora, CO Dark Knight Rises shooting victims families speaking out; I mean, Joker is a truly audacious movie at a time when the nation is divided over gun control, and impacted by mass shootings. Yet, Warners has historically been a ballsy studio with its art, whether its A Clockwork Orange, Natural Born Killers or even the guns-a-blazing The Matrix.

Warners has always known there was gold in this weekend, and has continually tapped it like a slot machine with pics like Gravity ($55.8M), A Star Is Born (as counter-programming to Venom last year, opening at $42.9M) and Annabelle ($37.1M). Sonys Venom finally broke the dam beating Gravitys record for the month, and now Warners has reclaimed it.

Theres some fall school break and college action that helps boost grosses with a combined percentage of the two off today at 7%, rising to 11% on Monday and 21% by next Friday of Columbus Day weekend.

DreamWorks Animation/Pearl Studios Abominable will lay claim to second place with $10.4M, off 50% in Weekend 2, for a 10-day total of $36.2M. Third goes to Focus Features Downton Abbey with $7.7M, -46% in Weekend 3, for a running total Sunday of $73.3M. Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wus stripper pic Hustlers stays strong in fourth place in Weekend 4 with $5.9M, -48%, for a running cume on Sunday of $90.9M.

New Line/Warner Bros It Chapter Two is at $4.7M, -54% in Weekend 5, for a running total $201.6M. Roadside Attractions Judy remains in tune in Weekend 2, jumping from 461 to 1,458 theaters for $4.3M, +47%, for a running total of $8.8M in sixth place.

UPDATED, 7:15 AM PT Friday: Warner Bros/Bron/Village Roadshows R-rated Joker grossed $13.3 million at the Thursday box office, breaking the record for an October preview set by Sonys Venom last year.

Joker also beat the Thursday previews of such R-rated films as Deadpool ($12.7M), It Chapter Two ($10.5M), its director Todd Phillips Hangover 2 ($10.4 million) and Logan ($9.5M). The record is owned by Deadpool 2, which grossed $18.6 million in May 2018.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, early Friday AM update after 7:20 PM Thursday post, with exit polls: Warner Bros/Village Roadshows R-rated Joker is headed toward an October Thursday night preview record of $10M-$12M, which would upset the $10M made by Venom a year ago. Difference here is that Joker began showtimes at 4 PM, while Venom started at 5 PM at 3,543 locations. As we always asterisk, these forecasts do not come from Warner Bros but rather Deadline sources.

Booked at 4,374 theaters on Friday, Joker is the widest release ever for the month of October as well, ahead of Venoms 4,250.

Our Nancy Tartaglione reported yesterday that four offshorRead More – Source

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