In a weekend that saw the debuts of a new animated film with a strong IP, “The Addams Family,” and a new big-budget action film, “Gemini Man,” starring Will Smith and directed by Ang Lee, no one would have probably guessed that the second weekend of an R-rated Joaquin Phoenix film would not only beat those two films but in such a dominant fashion. But then again, who could have predicted just how much money “Joker” would make? Clearly not Paramount, as the studio would have likely picked another weekend to debut “Gemini Man.”
In its second weekend, the biggest box office story remains Todd Phillips’ “Joker.” Earning an estimated $55 million in its second frame, the R-rated comic book film about Batman’s greatest villain dropped a minuscule -42%, which is downright absurd for a film of this size. After a record-breaking opening, many assumed that the inflated debut for “Joker” would lead to a larger drop in the next weekend, as is the case for 99% of blockbusters. So, we wouldn’t have been shocked to see a decline of around -60% weekend-to-weekend. But dropping less than -50% and actually almost 10 points less than even that, is astonishing.
Through 10 days, “Joker” now sits at a domestic total of $193 million and a worldwide gross of $544 million. For a film that reportedly only carries a $55 million production budget, these numbers would have been incredible for a total box office run, let alone just after 10 days. While it’s probably unfair to compare these totals to films that are more than a decade old, “Joker” is now only roughly $10 million behind “Batman Begins,” which is the first in the franchise from director Christopher Nolan. As for more recent DC comics debuts, “Joker” now has “Justice League” clearly in its sights and will likely pass that films’ $229 million domestic total by next week.
If this film continues its dominance, a $300+ million domestic total is far from out of the question. And if that’s the case, we’re talking “Joker” coming close to the totals for ‘Batman v. Superman,’ ‘Suicide Squad,’ and “Aquaman.” Not bad for a hard-R comic book film starring Joaquin Phoenix.
As for worldwide totals, the same films, minus “Aquaman” (which earned well over $1.1 billion), are likely on the list of the “Joker” victims. “Justice League” ($658 million), “Man of Steel” ($668 million), and “Suicide Squad” ($747 million) seem like obvious titles that “Joker” will surpass. But if it creeps up to $800 million or more, “Wonder Woman” ($822 million) could easily be within reach.
Again, we could keep talking about “Joker” until we were blue in the face, but let’s move on and talk about the two big debuts this weekend. First, there’s “The Addams Family,” which opened at #2 with an estimated $30 million. The animated film benefits from the Halloween season, enticing viewers looking for something that tickles their spooky bones, but also brings with it a healthy dose of nostalgia, as ‘Addams’ is the latest film in a franchise that has previously seen live-action success in the ‘90s and obviously decades earlier on the small screen. It just seems as if this was a perfect weekend for United Artists to release the film.
The same can’t be said about “Gemini Man.” The Will Smith film, from director Ang Lee, had a ton of hype leading into it, courtesy of the filmmaker’s insistence that he pushes the boundaries of 3D and frame rates, as well as utilizing digital character for the lead to play against. However, the sometimes shoddy special effects and the lackluster story seems to have kept audiences away from this adventure, as “Gemini Man” opened with a dismal $20 million in its first three days. With a budget reportedly at $138 million (with some reports going as high as $150 million), “Gemini Man” needed at least twice that debut to be considered decent. Obviously, Paramount is going to bank on international money to bring this to profitability. But with horrible reviews, the studio better hope word-of-mouth is going to be enough to give this action film the shot in the arm it needs. Otherwise, we’re looking at another Ang Lee experiment that fails to showcase his version of the future of filmmaking.
Ending on a high note, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about “Parasite.” The latest masterpiece from Bong Joon-ho debuted in 3 theaters this weekend and had a record-breaking Per-Theater-Average of $125,421. Yes, that’s a massive number and not just the best of 2019 but actually the best ever for a foreign-language film. It’s also the 8th best PTA of any live-action film and the 18th best of all time. NEON has to be celebrating with numbers like that. Hopefully, the excitement continues, as “Parasite” continues to expand in the weeks to come.
As for the next weekend, we’re looking at two major debuts. The first, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” is the sequel to the popular Angelina Jolie fantasy film from Disney. Surprisingly, while this film is the sequel to a film that made a ton of money previously, the buzz surrounding it seems to be lackluster. But hey, we can’t ever count Disney out. The second film, “Zombieland 2: Double Tap,” is another sequel that’s banking on the success of the first one to drive interest. However, unlike ‘Maleficent 2,’ the latest ‘Zombieland’ film is coming 10 years after the first, leaving us to wonder if anyone even cares? We’ll find out in seven days.
Here’s the domestic top 10 for October 11 to October 13:
1. Joker – $55M ($193M Overall)
2. The Addams Family – $30M (Debut)
3. Gemini Man – $20M (Debut)
4. Abominable – $6.2M ($48M)
5. Downton Abbey – $4.9M ($83M)
6. Hustlers – $3.9M ($98M)
7. Judy – $3.3M ($15M)
8. It: Chapter Two – $3.2M ($207M)
9. Jexi – $3.1M (Debut)
10. Ad Astra – $2M ($47M)