IndieWire box office reporter Tom Brueggemann wrote in the middle of October that Warner Bros.’ revisionist comic book drama “Joker” could be headed near or past the coveted $1 billion at the worldwide box office. One month later, “Joker” is all but destined to join the $1 billion club, no small feat for an R-rated movie that trades in standard action beats for more character-focused drama. A new report from Forbes’ senior contributor Scott Mendelson says “Joker” will be near $957 million worldwide by the end of November 8, making $1 billion all but assured. More importantly, “Joker” has become the most profitable comic book film ever released.
With a reported production budget of $62.5 million, “Joker” has so far earned just over 15 times its cost and counting (15.3x if we’re being exact). Forbes reports that multiplier makes “Joker” more profitable than any other comic book release in terms of budget versus global gross. “Joker” has surpassed the likes of profitable comic book films “Venom” ($854 million box office/$90 million budget), Tim Burton’s “Batman” ($411 million/$35 million), “Deadpool” ($783 million/$58 million), “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” ($200 million/$13.5 million), and “The Mask” ($351 million/$23 million).
Moreover, when “Joker” crosses $1 billion sometime this month it will be the cheapest movie to do so. Most $1 billion grossers are massive studio tentpoles with budgets above $100 million (see all of the Marvel movies for an example). According to Forbes, “Jurassic Park” is currently the cheapest $1 billion grosser with a $63 million production budget.
“Joker’s” box office success around the world has been unprecedented. The movie was always going to catch the eye of comic book movie fans because of its source material, but the casting of Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and the movie’s awards bona fides (Phoenix is a Best Actor frontrunner and the film picked up the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival) have made “Joker” appointment viewing for the non-comic book crowd as well.
In the U.S., “Joker” has held on at the box office stronger than many of its comic book movie contemporaries. “Joker” has never had a drop above the 50% mark since opening October 4. In recent weeks, the Todd Phillips-directed film has dropped just 29% from weekend to weekend. The film continues to play nationwide and its box office should only hang on once nominations for Phoenix start being announced.