There were a few doubts about the Joker film before its release. Would Joaquin Phoenix put on a great show as the Clown Prince of Crime? Will it be good without Batman in it (technically)? Is it going to even make any money?
Well as it turns out, not only was Joaquin Phoenix fantastic, the Batman-less film was good enough to make a lot of money. Like, a lot of money.
Warner Bros. (via Entertainment Weekly) has confirmed that Joker will cross the $1 billion worldwide box office mark, making it the first R-rated film in history to do so and the most profitable comic book movie made by virtue of its (relatively) low budget compared to, well, almost every other comic book movie.
It’s honestly astonishing that Joker has reached the $1 billion milestone given all the polarising pre-release buzz but hey, it proves that we know nothing about what the audience wants.
But in saying that though, there are a few lessons to be taken from this little(ish) Joaquin Phoenix-starring vehicle that could shape how Hollywood approaches movie-making going forward.
Who needs China anyway?
The biggest surprise surprise about Joker‘s $1 billion dollar run is how it managed to do so without being released in China, which is arguably the most profitable country for making box-office dollars outside of the U.S.
With a greater number of studios doing deals with Chinese companies and compromising content just to appease China (and its wallet), it’s quite pleasing to see a film be so wildly successful without the need to brown-nose another country.
That certainly bodes well for future films as it demonstrates that you don’t need to suck up to an authoritarian country to make money.
People seem to like stuff that’s different and weird (and good)
If you look at the list of highest-earning films of 2019, all the ones that out-grossed Joker were all easily-digestible family fare.
It’s simply mind-boggling how a violent and unsettling film like Joker could be so successful yet so seemingly commercially unfriendly given how it’s missing Batman, aka its most marketable element.
It goes to show that people dig different films that aren’t aimed at children or to sell toys, and they particularly like them when they’re, you know, actually pretty damn good as well.
That’s a promising lesson for filmmakers: make movies the big studios can’t, offer something different, make sure it’s good (duh) and people will come.
Y’all still love comic book movies
Despite the deluge of comic book films that get dropped upon us every year and the cries of “superhero film fatigue,” Joker‘s success shows that everyone is still frothing on them and will be for the foreseeable future.
Martin Scorsese ain’t going to be happy about this.