There was a time when everyone thought an origin movie about Batman’s arch nemesis The Joker was a bad idea. Now that director Todd Phillips has given us that movie with Joker, there are some who still stand by that judgment. But as the box office for the R-rated comic book movie starring Joaquin Phoenix has shown, audiences have been curious and captivated by this unsettling version of how the Gotham City criminal came to be. In fact, despite being limited by the R-rating, Joker has now become the most profitable comic book movie of all-time.
Forbes has the Joker box office record update that saw the movie reaching $957 million worldwide last night. Since the production budget for the movie was around $62.5 million, that means the movie has made 15.3 times the budget. That’s enough to surpass the previous record set by The Mask starring Jim Carrey, which earned $351 million against a budget of $23 million all the way back in 1994. That’s a record that likely won’t be beat for a long time, especially since most comic book movies typically have a much bigger budget.
Joker is also the third cheapest movie to gross over $900 million, coming in only behind Bohemian Rhapsody, which earned $905 million on a budget of $52 million, and the original The Lion King, which raked in $968 million on a $55 million budget in 1994, the same year that The Mask was in theaters. If the movie ends up crossing $1 billion worldwide, which seems likely, it will officially become the lowest budgeted movie to hit that milestone, surpassing the original Jurassic Park in 1993.
What might end up helping Joker make even more money as the year wraps up is the big awards push that Warner Bros. Pictures will be making. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the Academy buys into a comic book movie that is dressed up like an Oscar-friendly thriller. The movie drew inspiration from a handful of iconic classics, such as Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, but will the Academy think the film deserves praise for emulating those movies, or will they see it as a hollow imitation? That’s something we probably won’t know until awards season is in full swing.
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