It makes sense that on the week when people dress up for make believe, the movie that created one of the most popular characters of Halloween 2019 returned to No. 1 in its fourth weekend.
D.C. Comics’ “Joker” fell only 35 percent in its fourth weekend — and more impressively, it’s on a weekend that tends to see a fall in grosses. It also was helped by the weakness of three new wide releases.
Grosses are likely to stay close to the same period a year ago. That’s a positive shift, but the gap remains around $525 million with only a little more than two months to close it.
“Joker” would be doing well by any gauge; it’s especially true with a $65 million production cost, and updated worldwide figures surging to $850 billion. It looks like it could have as much as $100 million left in it, even without the China date that would have pushed it to $1 billion.
Apart from the anarchic spirit that might unsettle the Middle Kingdom’s censors, its R rating made it an unlike candidate to play. However, Warner Bros. touted that same drawback as the film passed “Deadpool” this week as the biggest worldwide gross among R-rated titles (although only at current dollar rates). “The Exorcist,” adjusted, made just below $1 billion domestica before adding substantial foreign revenues. “The Godfather” also was clearly bigger. That said, “Joker” is a huge success and major profit maker. And it is becoming so because of audience enthusiasm and word of mouth.
Because of the calendar, top films were absent this weekend (next week has four, including “Terminator: Dark Fate,” which had a surprisingly weak foreign opening this weekend). That gave two low-budget entries a shot at attention, as well as a rescued Weinstein film that was once a hoped-for awards contender.
STX, which has thrived this year with two breakout hits (“The Upside,” also once Weinstein, and “Hustlers”) regularly provides lower-budget genre films. “Countdown,” with its death-predicting app making sense for Halloween, came in at around $9 million to beat Sony’s police thriller “Black and Blue” with a little over $8 million. The latter is from the studio’s Screen Gems unit, which has been a little quiet this year. Both films had lower marketing and production costs, so these modest returns ultimately could be enough for profit.
Further down the list, under $3 million, is “The Current War: Director’s Cut.” A historical drama about Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nicolas Tesla vying for control of usable electricity, it returned to its director’s control after a weak Toronto 2017 premiere. The number here isn’t great, although in its defense the film played only a little over 1,000 theaters. That it is playing at all is some victory.
For the second time this year, Disney stubbed its toe with a live-action animated adaptation. First was “Dumbo;” now this $185 million sequel to the successful “Sleeping Beauty” offshoot dropped 50 percent. That’s surprising since family-oriented Disney films often hold well and there was little competition this weekend.
It is doing better foreign, as did the original, but could struggle to reach $100 million domestic. At just under $300 million worldwide, this has a long way to reach profit.
“Zombieland: Double Tap” fell more at 57 percent, even with the benefit of Halloween audiences. This sequel should top out under $65 million. Foreign will need to soar ahead of the original for this mid-budget film to find a profit.
The impressive hold on the list is “The Addams Family,” down only 28 percent, rising a position to No. 3, and seeming to get the biggest Halloween boost. This now looks like a $100 million domestic total, a real surprise and another sleeper outside of the anticipated hits for the month.
A24’s “The Lighthouse” with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe reached No. 8 with over $3 million in 586 theaters. Pattinson’s fan base likely boosted it above its art-house audience appeal, but whatever it took to promote it, A24 found it.
The Top Ten
1. Joker (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #2
$18,900,000 (-35%) in 3,936 theaters (-154); PTA (per theater average): $4,802; Cumulative: $277,583,000
2. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$18,537,000 (-50%) in 3,790 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,891; Cumulative: $65,412,000
3. The Addams Family (United Artists) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$11,705,000 (-28%) in 4,207 theaters (+105); PTA: $2,782; Cumulative: $72,801,000
4. Zombieland: Double Tap (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #3
$11,600,000 (-57%) in 3,468 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,345; Cumulative: $47,000,000
5. Countdown (STX) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 30; Est. budget: $6 million
$9,010,000 in 2,675 theaters; PTA: $3,368; Cumulative: $9,010,000
6. Black and Blue (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: XXX; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $12 million
$8,325,000 in 2,062 theaters; PTA: $4,037; Cumulative: $8,325,000
7. Gemini Man (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$4,000,000 (-52%) in 3,008 theaters (-634); PTA: $1,330; Cumulative: $43,342,000
8. The Lighthouse (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #15
$3,082,000 (+621%) in 586 theaters (+578); PTA: $5,261; Cumulative: $3,663,000
9. The Current War: Director’s Cut (101) NEW – Cinemascore: XXX; Metacritic: 49; Est. budget: $30 million
$2,730,000 in 1,022 theaters; PTA: $2,671; Cumulative: $2,730,000
10. Abominable (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #6
$2,000,000 (-43%) in 1,658 theaters (-600); PTA: $911; Cumulative: $56,819,000