Box Office Report: Joker Gets the Last Laugh

Joker Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (Warner Bros.)

Joker tops the box office again while The Addams Family excels & Gemini Man struggles.

Those thinking Joker was a one-week deal were proven wrong as Joker had an absolutely fantastic second-weekend that exceeded all expectations. Falling only 42% this weekend, Joker had a far better second-weekend than any other modern-day comic book movie, an indication that’s it now playing more like an adult-drama like Gone Girl than an MCU title in terms of weekend-to-weekend drops. Grossing another $55 million, Joker has now grossed $192.7 million after ten days of domestic release. Unless it just falls like a stone from here, it looks like Joker is gonna crack $300 million domestically, which would make it only the thirteenth Warner Bros. title and the first October release in history to cross that domestic box office threshold. In other words, Joker’s box office performance is not a tragedy, it’s a comedy.

In second place this weekend was the biggest new wide release of the weekend, The Addams Family, which opened to $30.3 million this weekend, the third-biggest animated movie opening weekend ever in October and the fifth-biggest opening weekend ever for an MGM release. The Addams Family is still mighty popular in the 21st-century, and the fact that there hasn’t been a feature-length film starring the characters in 26 years helped to give this new take on the characters a sense of specialness. Plus, there’s an odd lack of creepy and kooky fare at the multiplex in October 2019 and The Addams Family helped to fill that void in the marketplace. The Addams Family proved to be a touch frontloaded this weekend and has to face Maleficent: Mistress of Evil next weekend, so it may not be a super leggy box office performer, but it should at least get to $85-90 million domestically.

Next up is another new wide release, Gemini Man, a motion picture that could make a person…from another person but couldn’t make a box office hit out of its high-concept premise of dueling Will Smith’s. Opening to $20.5 million, this is one of Will Smith’s lower opening weekends, coming in 26% behind the opening weekend of After Earth and only slightly ahead of the opening weekend of Enemy of the State from 21 years ago. It’s also worth noting Gemini Man came in 9% behind the opening weekend of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. A $138 million budgeted original sci-fi movie is always a risky proposition and Paramount/Skydance are to be commended for giving an auteur like Lee work on something not based on a toy or comic book.

Still, Gemini Man was let down by both anemic reviews and especially by marketing that could never make the film look compelling either in terms of human drama or action spectacle. The fact that both Smith characters in the Gemini Man marketing were so grim and serious didn’t help matters either, Smith’s biggest movies (Hitch, Aladdin, Men in Black, etc.) involve the actor being funny and lively. 

Moving onto the holdovers, Abominable fell 48% in the face of Addams Family and grossed another $6.1 million for a domestic gross of $47.9 million. Looks like this yeti movie is headed for a domestic total in the $60-70 million range, one of the lowest totals ever for a DreamWorks Animation release. Downton Abbey fell just 38% this frame to add $4.9 million to its domestic gross that now stands at $82.6 million while Hustlers dropped 39% for a fifth-weekend haul of $3.8 million for a $98 million domestic gross. Judy dipped just 29% this frame, the smallest weekend-to-weekend decline in the top ten, and grossed another $3.25 million for a $14.9 million domestic gross. It: Chapter Two fell 39% this weekend, scaring up another $3.22 million in the process for a domestic gross of $207.1 million.

A movie about Adam DeVine and a cell phone obsessed with him was released this weekend. It was called Jexi. It opened to $3.1 million, a terrible opening for a new comedy release in 2,332 locations. The final theatrical release from CBS Films, there’s really not much to say about this one beyond the fact that of course a movie bombs when you release a trailer for it that could legally count as a form of torture.

Rounding out the top ten was Ad Astra, which fell a sharp 53% for a fourth-weekend gross of $1.9 million for a $47 million domestic total. Also in its fourth-weekend was Rambo: Last Blood, which fell 57% to add $1.55 million to its domestic gross of $42.9 million. In honor of Columbus Day weekend, The Lion King re-expanded back into 1,687 locations and grossed just $679,000 for a dismal per-theater average of $402 for its efforts. The Lion King has now grossed $542.2 million domestically.

The real talk of the weekend box office, and for good reason, is Parasite, who’s opening weekend was impressive on countless levels. Grossing $376,264 from just 3 locations, Parasite had the biggest limited release opening weekend ever for NEON, the biggest opening weekend per-theater average of 2019, the biggest limited release opening weekend per-theater average since La La Land and the biggest opening weekend per-theater average ever for a foreign-language title. Needless to say, this is an incredible bow for a movie that looks like it has real potential to be the kind of cross-over mainstream hit that you rarely see foreign-language films achieve at the domestic box office. Looking to just this opening weekend, though, Parasite got off to a massively impressive start this frame.

Moving onto holdovers, Pain & Glory had a great second-weekend hold as it grossed $289,147 from 23 locations for a per-theater average of $12,572 for a ten-day domestic total of $574,571. The Peanut Butter Falcon eased 41% this frame to gross another $278,567 for a domestic gross of $19.5 million. It’s official, The Peanut Butter Falcon is on its way to becoming only the second limited release title of 2019 to crack $20 million domestically. Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice dipped only 9% in its sixth-weekend of release, grossing another $262,080 in the process for a domestic gross of $3.2 million. Finally, Lucy in the Sky expanded into 198 locations and expanded into $73,000 for a per-theater average of $369 for a domestic total of just $154,612.

The top twelve movies this weekend grossed a total of $134.4 million, 5% ahead of this same weekend last year when Venom ruled the domestic box office again. It’s also the second-biggest weekend gross ever for this time of the year and brings the current monthly gross of October 2019 to about $380 million, roughly even with the gross of October 2018 at the same point. Does this mean October 2019 has a shot at dethroning the $833.7 million monthly gross of October 2018 to become the biggest October in history? Well, that’ll primarily come down to how Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Zombieland 2: Double Tap perform next weekend, but it doesn’t seem impossible at this juncture.

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