Box Office: ‘Joker’ Sets $39.9 Million Opening Day Record for October

Weeks of controversial headlines aren’t getting in the way of a record-breaking weekend for Warner Bros.’ “Joker.”

After taking home $39.9 million in Friday domestic ticket sales — the biggest October opening day ever — the R-rated supervillain film is eyeing a huge $92 million weekend total.

That’s on the higher end of initial box office projections, which saw the film debuting in the $80 million to $95 million range. Either way, the film is likely to beat previous October opening weekend record holder “Venom,” which opened to $80.3 million last year.

“The Joker” has generated widespread controversy for its villainous depiction of evil, prompting some theaters to increase security. Additionally, family members of the 2012 Aurora shooting victims — a mass shooting that occurred at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises — signed a letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff expressing concerns about the film’s release. Although the families ultimately refrained from calling for “Joker” to be pulled from release, they did say the movie’s “sympathetic origin story… gave us pause.”

“Joker,” which is opening with the biggest release ever for an October film, premiered to early critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, the festival’s highest prize. Star Joaquin Phoenix has also drawn early awards speculation for his turn as the classic DC villain.

“Joker” is also generating ticket sales overseas where it scored $32.7 million from 73 foreign markets, bringing its international total up to $57.2 million. Top Friday openers included the United Kingdom ($4.7 million), Mexico ($4.2 million), Japan ($1.9 million) and Spain ($1.4 million).

Behind “Joker” is Universal’s animated adventure “Abominable,” which took home $2.7 million in its second weekend. “Downton Abbey” came in third with $2.4 million and STX’s fourth weekend of “Hustlers” scored another $1.9 million. Rounding out the top five was Warner Bros.’ fifth frame of “It: Chapter Two” which nabbed $1.4 million.

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