Last month, Joker made its debut at the Venice International Film Festival to an overwhelmingly positive response. It received an eight-minute standing ovation and also took home the festival’s biggest prize, The Golden Lion — an award previously won by the likes of Roma and The Shape of Water, an award that a comic book movie has never won in the past. And then something happened.
The film was screened for American critics and the negative reviews started pouring in. But it wasn’t just negative reviews (which are fine), it was fear-mongering. American media (not all, obviously) created a narrative that pretty much screamed, “if you watch Joker, you’re guaranteed to be a mass shooter.” The armed forces were deployed to patrol certain cinemas and a lot of them banned clown masks and disallowed people from cosplaying as The Joker. The criticisms, while understandable at first has slowly evolved into incomprehensible hysteria.
Clearly, none of it affected Joker’s opening weekend box office. In North America, the film grossed a whopping $US 93.5 million opening weekend, setting a new record for theatrical openings in the month of October. Not only is that a huge number in its own right, but the fact that it’s an R-rated film also makes it all the more impressive. To put things into perspective, Logan grossed $US 88 million in its opening weekend in North America, while Venom raked in $US 80 million.
The film has also performed spectacularly outside of North America, earning around $US 140.5 million in its first weekend in theatres. This puts the film’s opening weekend global tally at $US 234 million. While the detailed reports aren’t out yet, it’s said that the film did really well in countries like UK, Russia, Korea, Australia and even Indonesia. I’ve reached out to Warner Bros to find out how well the film did over here in Malaysia and am currently waiting for their response.