• Annex Team

Warner Bros "Joker" Movie Breaks October Box Office Records- $141 Million Opening Weekend

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

By: Jean-Paul Cote, October 6, 2019

Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker in Theaters Now

The Joker, hit theaters worldwide on Thursday. Despite a flurry of controversy encircling the film, it grossed an unprecedented 13.3 million opening night. The Joker’s box office success was up in the air amidst masses of swirling controversy involving shooting threats posted on social media. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued warnings to law enforcement, to be on the alert, after the threats were issued. These threats were not credited as viable, but law enforcement were urged to stay on the alert regardless. A threat that was deemed “credible,” was called in to the Century Cineplex in Huntington beach. Initially, a heavy police presence was issued to the theater, but the decision to close the theater entirely was eventually made, causing the cancellation of two Thursday night showings. The theater has since reopened.

Theaters Take Precautions

Century Cineplex in Huntington Beach may have been the only theater to actually close, but many others have taken precautions. Alamo Drafthouse movie chain made a post on Facebook warning parents not to bring their kids to see The Joker, due to its extreme language and dark tones. The post has since been removed. Alamo movie theaters stated they will provide extra security and a police presence. AMC and Landmark have placed bans on toy guns and masks.

Reminder of Tragedy

The Dark Knight Rises, a film by Warner Bros from which tragedy stemmed, weighs heavy on the minds of the public as The Joker plays this weekend. The parents of the victims of the 2012 Aurora shooting, wrote a letter addressed to Warner Bros. The letter stated, “We’re calling on you to use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns.” Warner Bros responded to the letter saying, “Make no mistake: Neither the fictional character Joker nor the film is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.” (Source - Cosmopoliton). The decision was reached, by both Warner Bros and Century theaters, that The Joker will not play at the location of the 2012 shooting in Aurora, CO.

Joker, A Sympathetic Character?

The controversy surrounding this movie does not simply stem from the shooting threats, but from the artistic choices on behalf of the directors and the studio. The film has received harsh criticism based on the fact that the violent, murderous main character of the film is told in a sympathetic fashion. CNN’s Brian Lowry wrote, “The story's told in a manner that seeks to evoke empathy without rooting for him,” (Source - CNN). Stephanie Zacharek, critic for Time magazine, wrote, “In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week. And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love.” (Source - Time). She goes on to say that creating a film like this, in an era with so much gun violence, is a potentially irresponsible move on the part of the director, Todd Philips. But Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the leading role in the film, defended the movie saying, “I think it's really good ... when movies make us uncomfortable or challenge us or make us think differently.” Warner Media also emphasized in a statement that it is not their intention to “hold this character up as a hero,” (Source - CNN).

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros

Numbers Don’t Lie

In spite of mixed reviews, the numbers for Thursday night surpassed even the outstandingly high projections of 10-12 million. The opening day revenue brought the number up to 39 million, which broke the record previously held by Venom for the highest grossing October preview, of all time. Over the course of the weekend The Joker is projected to gross 92 million, which would make it the highest grossing 3 day movie ever released in the month of October.

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