Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is laughing all the way to the top of the box office. The movie premiered in theaters for previews at 4pm on Thursday and made a record-breaking $13.3M. The film topped Sony Pictures’ “Venom,” which held the highest Thursday night preview slot in October with its $10M gross.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as the titular character in the film, which is on track to make between $80M and $95M over its opening weekend. “Venom” also holds the record for the highest domestic opening in October, and that movie made $80M during its first weekend in theaters in 2018. The 2018 version of “Halloween” holds second-place with a $76.2M opening, and “Gravity” holds the third-place record with a $55.7M opening weekend. “Joker” is expected to become the new October champion.
There have been safety concerns surrounding the opening of “Joker” in theaters. The FBI is working with local police in major cities, hoping to avoid another mass shooting like the one in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 during the late-night screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” That event left 12 people dead and another 70 injured. Families and friends of the victims of that shooting have questioned the studio’s choice to center an entire film on a mass murderer that takes his revenge on a city. These critics said that while they respect the artistic license to make the movie, they asked Warner Bros. Pictures to play a more proactive role in working with gun control advocates to offset the film’s glorification of vengeance and murder. The studio responded to the call to action but did not agree to any of the steps listed.
Todd Phillips directed “Joker,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, and Zazie Beetz, and the film is opening in over 4,000 locations nationwide. Next week, “Joker” will have to battle the animated-comedy “The Addams Family” and Will Smith’s “Gemini Man.” The comedy “Jexi” is also opening in roughly 2,300 locations.
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