Joker isn't going to be a laughing matter when it debuts at the box office next month. The highly-anticipated DC Comics adaptation recently debuted to very strong buzz at the Venice Film Festival. Couple that with the character at the heart of this tale, the general popularity of comic book movies and a lack of direct competition, and the movie is looking at a clear path to big money. So much so that it's now on pace to beat a major October box office record set by Venom.

Early box office tracking numbers now have Joker earning between $70 and $95 million on its opening weekend. Venom set the all-time October record last year with an $80.2 million take. The Tom Hardy-starrer went on to earn more than $850 million globally and paved the way for a sequel. That's not to say that Joker will play as well overseas, or that it will have the legs to carry it to such heights, but a very strong opening weekend like this is a very good sign for the risky project from DC Films.

Joker takes place outside the DECU continuity established in movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Aquaman. Joaquin Phoenix stars as the famed villain and director Todd Phillips has crafted a totally original origin story for the character which completely departs from the comic book lore. Following its Venice debut, the movie was met with a massive standing ovation, Phoenix earned himself a great deal of Oscar buzz and it's now sitting at a very solid 89 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Point is, things are looking good.

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All of that equates to one major advantage over Venom. Joker is going in with a lot of positive buzz. On the flipside, Venom was ravaged by critics upon arrival. Granted, it proved to be a crowd-pleaser, but critical acclaim doesn't hurt. Plus, if Todd Phillips' R-rated comic book movie can truly generate some legitimate awards season love, it will likely have longer legs at the box office, as moviegoers will probably be seeing it through the Academy Awards in February. While it remains to be seen how general audiences will respond to the final product, this all feels like a recipe for success.

Previously, Joker had been on track to debut with around $77 million, which would have put it above the debut of Aquaman. While it still could fall in that range, things are trending upward. The cast for the movie also includes Robert De Niro (Goodfellas), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Marc Maron (GLOW), Bill Camp (Molly's Game), Glenn Fleshler (Barry), Shea Whigham (Kong: Skull Island), Brett Cullen (Narcos), Douglas Hodge (Red Sparrow) and Josh Pais (Going in Style). Joker is set to hit theaters on October 4. This news comes to us via Box Office Pro.

Ryan Scott