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Joker could laugh its way to one of the biggest R-rated openings of all time with $90 million

By Josh Weiss
Joaquin Phoenix Joker

After rave reviews, a 77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and victory over the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, Todd Phillips' Joker is shaping up to be one of the most successful R-rated films in history. There ain't nothing funny about that, now is there?

According to Deadline, the comic book film could take in anywhere between $82 million and $90 million during its opening weekend at the domestic box office. If it hovers around the $82 million mark, the movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, will have enough capital to overtake last year's Venom ($80.2 million) as the biggest October debut in cinematic history. It'll also surpass Halloween 2018 ($76 million) and Jordan Peele's Us ($71 million) on the list of biggest R-rated premieres.

If Joker breaks $90 million or more, however, it will have the distinct honor of making up the most impressive 5-6 R-rated openings of all time. With just $92 million, it would best The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and It Chapter Two (2019), both of which brought in just over $91 million each. Should that happen, Joker would also become the first R-rated comic book flick to crack the Top 5 since last year's Deadpool 2 ($125 million), which holds the coveted second spot after its 2016 predecessor ($132 million). The third-biggest opening for any R-rated release goes to 2017's It, with $123 million.

Joaquin Phoenix Joker

Directed and co-written by Todd Phillips, Joker provides an origin story for Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime, painting him as a failed comedian named Arthur Fleck in the early 1980s. When his stand-up career crashes and burns, Fleck (who was mentally troubled to begin with) sparks a clown-inspired revolution that introduces a wave of chaos, crime, and violence into Gotham. Phoenix has been receiving the majority of praise from critics for his haunting, tour-de-force interpretation of the famous DC villain, who goes on to become Batman's biggest archnemesis.

Just yesterday, we reported how the method actor shed a whopping 52 pounds to portray Fleck as a gaunt and visually frightening individual on the same level as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver or Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy.

Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Brett Cullen, Douglas Hodge,  Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Marc Maron, Brian Tyree Henry,  Bryan Callen, and Josh Pais make up the rest of the movie's ensemble cast.

Co-produced by Bradley Cooper, Joker laughs its way into theaters everywhere Friday, Oct. 4.

(certain figures via Box Office Mojo)