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Yes, yesterday was Columbus Day, but the 13% Monday-to-Monday drop for Joker remains impressive. The DC Films flick earned another $8.4 million on Monday after a $55.861 million (-42%) second weekend to bring its 11-day domestic total of $201.99 million. Presuming the film maintains its 35/65 domestic/overseas split, it has earned around $572 million worldwide as of last night. It’ll presumably cross $600 million worldwide either very late tonight or very early tomorrow. Either way, it’s already going to be the eighth-biggest R-rated grosser in raw global earnings, behind Passion of the Christ ($612 million), Logan ($619 million), It ($700 million), Matrix Reloaded ($742 million) Deadpool ($783 million), Deadpool 2 ($785 million, counting that PG-13 Once Upon A Deadpool version) and China’s unrated (but ridiculously violent) Wolf Warrior 2 which earned $854 million in the summer of 2017.
The Todd Phillips/Joaquin Phoenix drama has already earned more worldwide than It Chapter Two ($445 million) and will pass the $70 million, R-rated sequel’s $207 million running domestic cume sometime today. That will make it the year’s biggest domestic earner that isn’t a Disney and/or Marvel movie, a milestone that (barring a miracle) will only be challenged by Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level. Its global gross is still under the $700 million likes of China’s Wandering Earth and Ne Zha and Universal’s $755 million-grossing Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (out on EST today), but Joker could easily surpass those films to be the year’s biggest non-Disney/MCU earner of the year. Again, barring a miracle, Jumanji 3 is the only remaining challenger as even Terminator: Dark Fate is being distributed by Fox/Disney overseas.
Since it has passed/will pass It Chapter Two, Joker is Warner Bros.’ biggest grosser of the year, with nothing on the docket that will challenge it. Say what you will about DC Films as a brand, but it has unquestionably righted itself in terms of crowd-pleasing and (generally) well-reviewed superhero/supervillain flicks. And it has maintained itself as Warner Bros.’ biggest franchise. From 2012 to 2019, almost every year with a DC Comics movie has seen that film rise to the biggest grosser of the year for WB. Save for 2013, when Man of Steel earned “only” $668 million worldwide, coming in behind Gravity ($723 million) and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ($958 million), the Super Friends have ruled the Dream Factory. Heck, Man of Steel ‘s $291 million domestic cume was bigger than both of those.
The Dark Knight Rises ($448 million domestic and $1.084 billion worldwide) was Warner Bros.’ biggest release of 2012, just above The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($304 million/$1 billion). Batman v Superman ($330 million/$873 million) was WB’s biggest grosser of 2016, while Suicide Squad ($325 million/$745 million without China) was just below Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ($814 million). Wonder Woman ($412.5 million/$821 million) was WB’s biggest grosser of 2017, while Justice League (absurd $300 million budget notwithstanding) was WB’s third-biggest grosser behind Wonder Woman and It ($327 million/$700 million) with a $229 million domestic/$659 million worldwide cume. Aquaman earned $334 million domestic and $1.155 billion worldwide, easily becoming WB’s biggest domestic/global grosser of 2019 and becoming (partially thanks to $298 million in China) the first non-Disney/Universal movie to pass $1 billion in 3.5-years.
And now, during an admittedly off year which saw The LEGO Movie 2 and Godzilla: King of the Monsters go down in flames, Joker has cemented the DC Comics brand as WB’s most viable and valuable franchise. Sure, Shazam! “only” earned $140 million domestic and $363 million worldwide, but the well-liked and (until Avengers: Endgame stomped on it) leggy superhero flick cost just $90 million and may be, depending on my mood, DC Films’ best flick yet. Will it be a skewed variation of Disney’s live-action remake/fairy tale flicks, where the offbeat and grounded Pete’s Dragon is unquestionably their best of the lot while being among their lowest-grossing? Either way, all due respect to fans of Joker, Avengers; Endgame and/or Captain Marvel, Shazam! remains the best comic book movie of the year.
This all comes alongside news that Zoe Kravitz has been cast as Catwoman alongside Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight and Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Kravitz is Lisa Bonet’s daughter and Ms. Bonet is married to Jason Momoa, meaning Aquaman is Catwoman’s step-father. Kravitz voiced Catwoman in The LEGO Batman Movie back in 2017. I don’t have any strong feelings about the casting, or the movie for that matter (I’m sure it will be fine). Joker is their fourth straight well-reviewed and well-liked solo superhero/supervillain movie, and Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey looks like tons of naughty fun. Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 are still getting tagged with ill-sourced rumors about massive reshoots and poor test screenings, but the brand has earned the benefit of the doubt.
From The Dark Knight Rises to Joker, DC Comics and/or DC Films has remained the strongest ongoing brand for Warner Bros., pretty much as intended. Yes, there have been bumps along the way, and the brand is probably never going to match the MCU for consistency or consistent top-tier blockbuster grosses. Man of Steel underestimated the backlash to its third-act carnage, Dawn of Justice overemphasized Batman to its peril while Suicide Squad and Justice League were panicked, reactive messes. But Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam and Joker were varying degrees of good and varying degrees of commercially successful. And presuming Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey (give or take Tenet) will keep up the trend in 2020, DC Films is pretty much doing what it set out to do from the beginning.
I’ve studied the film industry, both academically and informally, and with an emphasis in box office analysis, for nearly 30 years. I have extensively written about all