'Joker' Box Office Breaks Records, Laughing All The Way To The Bank

It's official: people really wanted to see Joaquin Phoenix smoke cigarettes while wearing clown make-up. The Joker box office results from the weekend are in, and they're record-breaking. Todd Phillips' dark, violent R-rated take on Batman's arch-nemesis is now the winner of the largest October domestic opening ever, knocking out last year's Venom.

While any movie associated with Batman is almost guaranteed to make money, there were some doubts about Joker. This wasn't your average Bat-flick, after all. In fact, Batman isn't even in it. Instead, Joker is a dark, violent, very adult talk on the Clown Prince of Crime. On top of that, there were several reports of credible threats that lead to a heightened security presence in theaters opening weekend. But none of that was enough to turn away audiences, and Joker had the biggest domestic opening ever for the month of October, hauling in $93.5 million. Joker also earned $140.5 million overseas (via Box Office Mojo).

The big question now is: will it hold? Will Joker have the staying power of something like The Dark Knight, or even Venom? Or was this big opening merely the result of morbid curiosity – a movie-going public unable to turn-away a movie that was riding a wave of controversy? We'll know soon enough – either word-of-mouth will keep Joker laughing all the way to the bank, or the movie is going to plummet, box office-wise, come next weekend.

Any time an unpredictable movie scores big, Hollywood studios take note. This means that this morning there are probably two-dozen execs gathered around big conference tables, or Skyping in from who-knows-where, discussing what dark-and-violent comic book property they can make next. Get ready for R-rated Clock King!

Normally, especially in the world of comic book movies, you might expect Joker to spawn some sort of sequel now. While this isn't entirely out of the question, I have a hard time believing it would happen. The press tour for this film hasn't exactly gone smoothly, and Phoenix doesn't seem like the type of actor to get sucked into the franchise concept (he reportedly turned-down Doctor Strange because he didn't want to commit to multiple movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Even if we don't get a Joker sequel, Warner Bros. and DC have plenty to look forward to. The sure-to-be R-rated Birds of Prey arrives next year, and Matt Reeves is gearing up to make his new Batman movie with Robert Pattinson, due out in 2021.