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Box Office: Villains Face Off Again as ‘Joker’ and ‘Maleficent’ Battle for First Place

Despite three new nationwide releases, domestic box office charts look to be dominated by holdovers — Warner Bros.’ “Joker” and Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” — during the last weekend in October.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted last weekend with $36 million in North America, enough to dethrone “Joker” after the super-villain origin story’s back-to-back victories. But unless the “Maleficent” sequel has an exceptionally strong sophomore outing, “Joker” could reclaim its box office crown during its fourth weekend of release. “Maleficent 2” is expected to add another $14 million to $16 million, while “Joker” could pocket $15 million this weekend.

Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” just crossed $250 million in domestic ticket sales and is nearing the $500 million mark at the international box office. With momentum expected to carry through Halloween, “Joker” is on track to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history. It currently stands behind “Deadpool 2” ($785 million) and “Deadpool” ($783 million) in that category.

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” — starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Michelle Pfeiffer — had a significantly softer start at the domestic box office than expected, but has proven to be a bigger draw overseas. So far, the dark fantasy adventure has generated $118 million from foreign markets, boosting its global haul to $157 million.

Newcomers this weekend, including Sony and Screen Gems’ R-rated action thriller “Black and Blue,” STX’s horror pic “Countdown” and 101 Studio’s “The Current War: Director’s Cut,” are all anticipating single-digit debuts. Some box office tracking services estimate both “Black and Blue” and “Countdown” could reach closer to $10 million, with positive buzz.

“The Current War,” a historical drama that arrives after a rocky journey to the big screen, looks to collect $3 million over the weekend. The Weinstein Company was originally on board to distribution the movie following its premiere at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, but it got shelved and sold after sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein were brought to light and the studio shuttered. Lantern Entertainment then purchased the film, later selling domestic rights to 101 Studios, former Weinstein executive David Glasser’s company.

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, “The Current War” depicts a tense battle between electricity giants Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) — who teams up with Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) — as the men determine whose electrical system will power the modern world. The version of “The Current War” that will screen in theaters has been reshot and shortened by 10 minutes from the film originally screened at Toronto.

Arriving with a far less dramatic gestation to multiplexes, “Black and Blue” should make $6 million from 2,000 theaters during its first three days of release. Directed by Deon Taylor, “Black and Blue” follows a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. She soon finds out the slaughter was committed by corrupt cops, prompting her to team up with a local man (Tyrese Gibson) to bring truth to the community. “Black and Blue” cost $12 million to produce.

The PG-13 rated “Countdown” is eyeing a similar start around $5 million from 2,600 venues. The movie centers on a nurse who downloads an app that predicts when a person is going to die and finds out she only has three days to live. It carries a $6.5 million price tag.

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