AceShowbiz - "Joker" has laughed its way to the top spot of North American box office despite being plagued with criticisms about its controversial depiction of violence. The Todd Phillips-directed movie debuted to an estimated $93.5 million, currently standing as the highest-grossing opening in the history of October. It easily surpassed the benchmark previously set by Sony's antihero pic "Venom (2018)".
That's not the only new record set by "Joker". The R-rated movie about the origins of Batman's famous villain posted the largest opening for Warner Bros. this year as well as the fourth-best opening for a R-rated film. Internationally, the pic also defeated "Venom" to score the biggest October opening of all time with $140.5 million overseas. The movie additionally became a career-best start for its director Phillips as well as actors Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro.
"Joker" opened in 4,374 theaters, marking the widest October release of all time in North America, despite widespread security concerns that prompted cinemas across the country to heighten security on the film's opening weekend.
Critics were divisive about the movie, which holds an approval rating of 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, weighed in on how the controversy surrounding the movie helped boost its ticket sales. "I think the controversy helped it this weekend," he said. "It became a cultural phenomenon. All the talk around the film made it a must see event."
Jeff Goldstein, Warner's president of domestic distribution, said that the studio stressed that "Joker" is an R-rated drama in its marketing. "People knew what the movie was and the noise in the background did not slow it down," he said. "It's a thought-provoking film. We are enormously proud of Todd Phillips and the whole marketing team."
Trailing behind the new champion at No. 2 is last week's winner "Abominable", which added an estimated $12 million to its domestic gross. "Downton Abbey" is also down one place to No. 3 with an estimated $8 million, followed by "Hustlers" at No. 4 and "It Chapter Two" at the fifth place with approximately $6.3 million and $5.4 million, respectively.
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