Joker becomes first R-rated movie to gross $1 Billion at the Box Office

Simi Edeki and Simi Edeki

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After making over 1 billion dollars in the box office worldwide, Joker has become the most profitable comic book movie of all time, with an estimated $464 million in profit. The film’s budget was just $62.5 million, meaning Joker has made more than 16 times what it cost to make. It’s also the cheapest movie to top $1 billion worldwide and the first R-rated movie to gross to do so. Joker tells the story of Arther Fleck and the descent into madness that led to him becoming the Joker. The film opened on October 4th and surpassed expectations by taking in $96.5 opening weekend domestically, despite mixed reviews. It passed Venom’s previous October opening weekend record of $80.25 million. Furthermore, Joker has the fifth-largest domestic opening weekend the year, passing more traditionally popular movies like Spider-Man: Far From Home, Aladdin, IT: Chapter Two and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

This extraordinary box office run was unexpected, with opening weekend predictions around $50 million to $80 million. Although the film received a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival in August, Joker drew more criticism as it got closer to its opening weekend. The film faced backlash for its portrayal of mental health issues and violence and increased security measures were at movie theaters before its release. 

The Landmark Theaters chain banned costumes and masks for patrons during screenings of Joker. This decision followed a letter from the families of victims of the 2012 shooting that occurred during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were killed, and 70 were wounded. The letter expressed concern regarded the violent nature of the film and urged Warner Bros. to end political contributions to candidates taking money from National Rifle Association. The controversy only seemed to help the movie at the box office.

 This box office run is even more unprecedented because Joker is rated R, so it has less of a market, and it did not debut in China. China can add huge numbers to a movie’s earnings, but movie censors in China are tight, and releases with too much nudity or violence will be blocked from theaters. Nowadays, many film producers are trying to create films to cater to the Chinese audience to tap into this burgeoning market. After Joker surpassed The Dark Knight at the box office, it became the highest-grossing movie ever to not release in China. 

2019 has been a record-breaking year in the box office and had the top box office of all time for a G, PG, PG-13, or an R rated movie. Avengers: Endgame ($2.7 billion) was the highest-grossing movie of all time and the highest-grossing PG-13 movie. The Lion King ($1.65 billion) was the highest-grossing PG-rated movie, while Toy Story 4 ($1.07 billion) was the highest-grossing G-rated movie. Joker rounded out the group by becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.