In another time the weekend would have been billed as the battle between the Joker and the Gemini Man. This is not that time. While nobody seriously gave the new Will Smith film a chance to dethrone the comic-book spinoff film, many assumed it could at least beat The Addams Family. It is a story about three stories at the box office this week and none of them involve Jexi. But the story of Joker is shaping up to be a bigger one than anyone truly imagined.
Warner Bros.’ Joker showed no real signs of a slow-down this week and set a new record on top of it. Initial estimates on Friday suggested a weekend just under $46 million. As of Sunday morning the projections had jumped to $55 million, which handily bests the $43.1 million that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity made to have now the best first and second weekends ever for a film opening in October. With $192.73 million total domestically through 10 days it is also well ahead of Venom’s $142.1 million and Gravity’s $122.3 million. That second number is significant since Cuaron’s film is the highest-grossing October film of all time and Joker now finds itself just $78 million behind. Todd Phillips’ film also joins an elite group of movies opening to $80 million or higher and dropping less than 44% in their second week: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2002’s Spider-Man, Shrek 2, 2016’s The Jungle Book, Wonder Woman, Inside Out, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Passion of the Christ, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
Gravity was a marvel of consistency, never dropping more than 37% through its first seven weeks. Joker fell only 42.8% this weekend and could even challenge Gravity’s record-setting $30 million third weekend. On the all-time 10-day chart, Joker is more than $19 million ahead of Phillips’ own The Hangover Part II ($177.87 million), a film which fell 63.5% in weekend two down to $31.38 million and ultimately finished with $254.46 million. Gravity’s final domestic haul was $274 million, but now Joker is in a group of 63 other films with $190 million or more after 10 days (Joker is 62nd), and only five of those films failed to reach $300 million. The lowest-grossing film among them was The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, with $281.28 million – which would be good enough to secure October’s highest-grossing film ever. Worldwide Joker is up to $351 million.
United Artists Releasing, which has become the roof over the heads of Annapurna, Orion and MGM, had a good weekend, and their animated version of The Addams Family is going to be their highest-grossing film to date. Addams took home a $30.3 million opening weekend, looking to surpass UA’s The Hustle ($35.41 million total) in a few days and Annapurna’s Vice ($47.83 million) before its 10th day. This may be less than Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania films, which began between $42 million and$49 million each, but is now the third-best October start for an animated film behind Shark Tale ($47.6 million) and Puss in Boots ($34.07 million). They went on to gross $160 million and $149 million, respectively. Only nine films have ever opened in October to less than $32 million and hit $100 million (Meet the Parents, The Departed, Captain Phillips, Paranormal Activity, Argo, The Ring, Look Who’s Talking, Pulp Fiction, and American Beauty.)
For Gemini Man, $20.5 million is the estimate over the weekend. Paramount is hoping to keep that “2” in there come Monday, given the $138 million budget that Ang Lee’s sci-fi actioner is saddled with (before additional prints and advertising). The only Will Smith film opening to less than $21 million to reach $70 million total domestically was Enemy of the State, back during the 1998 holiday season. That leaves some heavy lifting for the international crowd to turn this into even just a modest failure.
Put simply, the second week of October has proven to be a graveyard for new openers in the wake of an anticipated hit. Just last year, Damien Chazelle’s acclaimed First Man ($16 million opening) got swallowed up by Venom and A Star is Born. In 2015, WB got killed with Pan ($15.31 million) a week after The Martian. Sony also struggled with the release of Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk the same year. Joker was going to be a hit the moment it was announced. The seven (now eight) highest-grossing films ever in October opened on the first weekend and the only films since 2000 to open in weekend two to gross over $70 million were Argo, Couples Retreat, Captain Phillips, The Accountant, and Kill Bill Vol. 1. Gemini Man is unlikely to join them.
On the same week that Ang Lee is looking at a potential financial disaster, he is also looking at losing a crown as well. Downton Abbey is less than $1 million away from passing Brokeback Mountain as Focus Features’ highest-grossing domestic film ever – though it still needs another $26 million to pass its worldwide total of $178 million. Also about to pass a milestone is STX’s Hustlers, which will become STX’s third $100 million grosser and second this year after The Upside. Bad Moms is their all-time leader with $113.25 million and looks to hold that title.
Roadside’s Judy continues to draw its core audience and is now the eighth–highest–grossing film in their history. It expanded from 1,458 to 1,627 theaters this weekend, dropping 29% from its $4.59 million last week to $3.26 million this week for a total of $14.97 million. Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous was in 1,193 theaters back in 2000 on its second weekend grossing $6.92 million and expanded into 1,635 in weekend three and made $5.57 million going on to gross $32.5 million total. Judy’s number was better than Lionsgate’s/CBS Films’ release of Jexi. The film opened to just $3.1 million in 2,332 theaters, representing Lionsgate’s worst per-theater-average ($1,329) since last year’s animated Early Man ($1,279).
Bong Joon-Ho’s critically beloved Parasite got off to a tremendous start in just three theaters. How tremendous you ask? Some $376,264 worth of tickets. How good is that? Well, it is the third-best start ever for a film released in a trio of venues, behind only The Diving Bell and the Butterfly ($441,548) and Dreamgirls ($378,950), and it the movie earned the best per-theater-average of 2019 so far ($125,431). Neon now needs to figure out how to capitalize on this given this is their best start for a film released in under 100 theaters. The studio’s highest-grossing film to date was Oscar nominee I, Tonya ($29.9 million) and their next two are documentaries: Three Identical Strangers ($12.3 million) and this year’s Apollo 11 ($9.03 million). Parasites hould become just their fourth film to gross over $5 million.
Despite a trio of new titles, the box office was once again dominated by the one-two punch of Venom and A Star is Born, grossing $35 million and $28.4 million, respectively. Edging a narrow victory for third was the critically acclaimed but publicly ignored tale of the moon landing, Damien Chazelle’s First Man, which opened to $16 million, just ahead of the $15.8 million made by Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. Even more ignored was Drew Goddard’s twisty tale of America’s sins during the 1960s, Bad Times at the El Royale, which opened to just $7.13 million and would never reach $18 million. The top 10 films, nevertheless, grossed a healthy $126.13 million and averaged 59.2% on the Tomatometer. This year’s top 10 grossed $132.24 million and averaged 63.6% with critics.
A pair of sequels hopes to hold the top two spots at the box office next week. Angelina Jolie returns in Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil five years after the original grossed over $241 million domestic and over $758 million worldwide. Then it has been 10 years since Ruben Fleischer made a splash with Zombieland, and the eventual director of Venom returns to his most-praised film to date with Zombieland: Double Tap – with the original cast all returning to reprise their roles and hoping to recapture a bit of that magic. In limited release we also see the launch of Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit (80% on the Tomatometer), Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse (95%), and the bizarro comedy, Greener Grass, created by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, which is currently at 93% on the Tomatometer.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]