We're not even 24 hours into the movie's box office run, but the Joker movie has already managed to break a pretty significant record. The DC Comics adaptation took in $13.3 million in Thursday night previews, which is a new October record. That number is above what analysts had been expecting, which means it should be well on its way to overtaking Venom for the October opening weekend record. It also means, controversial as it may be, Warner Bros. has yet another DC hit on their hands.
Venom had set the prior October record for Thursday night previews with $10 million last year. That already puts Joker well out in front, but it still has a long way to go, and more than a few hurdles to climb over to get there. Venom wound up scoring an $80.2 million opening domestically and Warner Bros. is playing things a bit conservative, estimating the origin story of Batman's greatest foe will bring in between $75 and $80 million. However, certain estimates in the industry now have that number climbing as high as $95 million.
Joker, directed by Todd Philips, is R-rated, whereas Venom was PG-13. That might have been a bigger hurdle to climb over even several years ago, but movies like Deadpool and IT, amongst others, have proved that R-rated movies can become bonafide blockbusters. It's also well worth mentioning that this movie has inspired a lot of chatter, much of it regarding its depiction of violence and what some view as a sympathetic take on a violent criminal. There have been concerns about the movie inciting real-world violence, which has caused certain theater chains to beef up security.
As of this writing, no actual violence has been reported, but a Huntington Beach theater did close due to what was called a credible threat. In any event, many critics have praised Joker, specifically Joaquin Phoenix's performance, but it's divisive. The DC adaptation currently holds a 69 percent critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though, the audience rating sits at 93 percent, which indicates word of mouth is going to be strong. That could help push the final numbers, come Monday morning, well beyond Veom's current record.
For Warner Bros., it's yet another big win for their DC Films division. Justice League was a big disappointment critically and commercially, which led to a shift in strategy. Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam all proved to be big hits and Joker is continuing that hot streak. The difference here is that Joker won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival and at this point seems like a lock for at least a few major Academy Award nominations, given its trajectory. That could mean a long, robust run at the box office. Be sure to check back with us on Sunday for the weekend box office estimates. This news was previously reported by The Wrap.