Joker has just passed another pretty surprising box office milestone. With the additional $2 million the DC Comics adaptation took in over the holiday weekend, it has now passed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at the domestic box office. Joker had already sailed by the 2016 Zack Snyder-directed movie at the global box office, but the fact that it has now also overtaken the big-budget crossover domestically is very telling.
To date, Joker has grossed $330.6 million domestically, which is just ahead of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which earned $330.3 million in 2016. If anyone had suggested in 2016 that a solo movie based on the Clown Prince of Crime starring Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind The Hangover trilogy, would gross more than the first ever live-action movie to feature both Batman and Superman in it, they certainly wouldn’t have believed it. And yet, here we are.
Joker is an R-rated, gritty and dark character study that is far removed from the typical comic book movies audiences are used to. Be that as it may, it’s found a great deal of critical praise, despite the controversy surrounding the movie, taking home the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, on its way to $1.04 billion globally. Batman v Superman, meanwhile, was also quite gritty, yet maintained a PG-13 rating. Zack Snyder’s ambitious sequel to Man of Steel also faced different controversies, with many fans taking issue with Ben Affleck’s Batman, who was perfectly willing to kill criminals. There were also complaints about Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and the convoluted plot, amongst other things. There are also ardent defenders of Snyder’s vision. It remains a messy situation.
The thinking seemed to be, initially, that dark and gritty was the problem. Joker, if nothing else, proves that dark and gritty can be tremendously successful. Warner Bros. was very reactionary, given the lackluster response to BvS, which grossed a very good, but not great considering the circumstances, $873.6 million worldwide. Justice League, thanks to Joss Whedon’s reshoots and rewrites, was made more lighthearted. Yet, it also proved to be a box office disaster, which has led to the whole #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement. Point being, it wasn’t that Snyder’s movies were too dark. It was just the story and characters lacked crucial elements that helped a movie like Joker resonate with a larger audience.
There are only two DC records that Joker hasn’t broken yet, and likely won’t break before its run is up. First off, Aquaman, at $1.14 billion globally, remains the highest-grossing DC movie ever. Domestically, Wonder Woman, which took in $412.5 million in 2017, remains DC’s biggest domestic earner ever, and there’s simply no way that Joker has the legs to catch up to Gal Gadot on that front. Regardless, Todd Phillips’ little R-rated experiment has proved to be a truly shocking success story that will undoubtedly reshape the future of DC Films. Whether or not that includes Joker 2 remains to be seen. This news was previously reported by Forbes.