Sometime this week, probably Friday or Saturday, Joker will become the 44th movie ever to pass the billion-dollar mark at the box office, joining Avengers: Endgame (#1) and, fittingly, The Dark Knight (#43). Not bad for a film with a reported $62.5 million production budget, a mere fraction of what fellow billion-dollar grossers like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($379 million), Justice League ($300 million), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($259 million) cost to make. Joker‘s overwhelming success can be attributed to Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-worthy performance, positive word-of-mouth, and that it’s about arguably the most famous comic book villain of all-time.
But there’s another reason Joker is doing so well: lack of competition.
Joker came out on October 4 — here are the big-budget movies that have been released since then: two expensive duds, Terminator: Dark Fate and Gemini Man; The Addams Family, which appeals to a different demographic; Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which is running $300 million behind the total gross of the original Maleficent; the years-late Zombieland sequel, Double Tap; Doctor Sleep, with a first weekend total that the Hollywood Reporter savagely referred to as “dismal”; and the historic flop, Arctic Dogs. Joker has been able to clean up at the box office because, unless you go to your local arthouse theater (please go to your local arthouse theater), there’s not much else to see.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way: No Time to Die, Wonder Woman 1984, and Sonic the Hedgehog were all originally scheduled to come out during November 2019 before being moved. “Since nothing of equal or greater value took their place, there was a huge hole in the overall marketplace,” Forbes reports. “Yes, in a skewed way, Wonder Woman 1984 moving from November 1, 2019, to June 5, 2020, is part of what helped Joker cross $1 billion. Ditto the lack of the 007 actioner or the Sonic adaptation.” If Joker had legitimate opposition, not Motherless Brooklyn, its week-to-week hold wouldn’t be as strong (it made over $11 million during its sixth week of release, which is very good):
Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die, and Sonic the Hedgehog‘s delays may be good for those films and, thus, good for Warner Bros., MGM/Universal, and Paramount. But it resulted in a lack of “big” movies in November, with the marketplace essentially on hold between Joker on October 4 and Frozen II on November 22. (Via)
Nothing between a comic book movie and a Disney movie? What a very 2019 problem.