'Joker' Will Laugh All The Way To The Bank, According To Early Box Office Tracking

It's official: audiences are ready to love that Joker. Todd Phillips's ultra-dark, ultra-violent twist on the infamous Batman villain, is already tracking for a smash-hit opening weekend. There's even a chance it'll break a record or two. If accurate, this Joker box office tracking suggests that Warner Bros.' gamble to make a very adult comic book movie is about to pay off.

There was a time not very long ago when the concept of an R-rated comic book movie – at least one based on a superhero property – seemed impossible. But things have slowly changed. Deadpool and his potty mouth opened the door for the very adult Logan. And now here comes Joker, an extremely violent, extremely dark film inspired by Batman's greatest foe.

Every bit of marketing for the film plays up the fact that this is not your typical comic book movie. Instead, it's a dark and twisted adult thriller that just happens to feature the Clown Prince of Crime. While most-things Batman are surefire box office hits, there was always a risk that Warner's big gamble with such a subversive comic book movie would backfire. But as the first early Joker box office projections come tumbling in, it looks like moviegoers are all-in on whatever madness Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have in store.

Variety says that Joker is headed towards a "sizable $76 million to $88 million" opening weekend. However, they also add that those numbers might be inflated, and that the film's dark nature will turn off audiences. With that in mind, Warners themselves are predicting a $50 million to $55 million opening. However, Deadline puts the number even higher, suggesting that Joker could haul in $90 million during its opening weekend. If so, that would beat the previous October box office holder – Venom, which debuted with $80.2 million.

No matter what happens, there's a very good chance that Joker stands to do well simply because Warners gave the film a "modest" budget of $55 million. Other Batman-related adaptations usually run the $150 million range, but the studio wasn't about to drop that sort of cash on an R-rated movie like this. Besides, the script didn't require that much anyway – this is a truly stripped-down movie. Don't expect big action set-pieces or tons of special effects here.

I caught Joker at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, and enjoyed it – for the most part. It's an incredibly well-crafted movie with one killer performance from Joaquin Phoenix. But it's also so dark and nihilistic that I don't think audiences are prepared for what they have coming their way. Joker opens October 4.