Joker laughs maniacally all the way to a box-office record

The film starring Joaquin Phoenix enjoyed the largest October domestic opening weekend ever.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is off to a superhero-sized start at the box office.

Niko Tavernise

Joker, the new film offering Joaquin Phoenix's take on the old Batman villain, wasn't clowning around at the box office on its opening weekend.

The film enjoyed the largest October domestic opening weekend ever, topping the box office both domestically and overseas. The film also scored the fourth-largest opening ever for an R-rated movie.

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Joaquin Phoenix poses with fans at a showing of Joker at Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles.

Courtesy Alamo Drafthouse LA

To reach that October record, Joker earned $96 million domestically and $140.5 internationally, combining for more than $236 million globally, according to The Hollywood Reporter after numbers were updated on Monday. And it hasn't even opened in some markets, including France and Germany.

The movie was even breaking records before it opened, Box Office Mojo notes. It played in 4,374 locations, making it the widest October movie opening ever, and on Thursday set a box-office record for previews, earning $13.3 million.

Moviegoers at Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles received a special treat when star Joaquin Phoenix himself stopped by multiple screenings of the film to meet fans and take selfies.

That same theater chain earlier warned patrons that even though Joker is traditionally Batman's nemesis, this is not a movie for kids.

CNET critic Richard Trenholm calls Joker an "intense, troubling movie" and notes that "it's hard to see the point being made when there's no heroic Batman representing the other side of the scarred coin."  

Before the film was released, nerves were high among some that the film could become a target for violence. In 2012, a shooter killed 12 people at an Aurora, Colorado, showing of Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. Before Joker opened, studio Warner Bros, released a statement stating that the film did not endorse violence and the Joker was not meant to be a hero.

A man who appeared to be drinking and who was clapping and cheering "incessantly" during a dark killing scene was removed from a theater in New York's Times Square Friday, and was questioned by security, the Associated Press reported.

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