For those keeping score, Joker earned another $3.77 million on Tuesday, +37% from Monday and -46% from last Tuesday. The $60 million, R-rated DC Films flick has earned $253.789 million domestic and, presuming its 33.5/66.5 domestic/overseas split has held, $757 million worldwide. Barring a fluke, it should pass the $785.05 million cume of Deadpool 2 (counting that PG-13 Once Upon a Deadpool cut which earned $50.5 million worldwide) over the weekend to become, sans inflation, the biggest R-rated movie ever in global box office. Of course, that won’t (yet) count the unrated Wolf Warrior 2, a hyper-violent action spectacular that earned $854 million (most of that in China) in the summer of 2017.
The film should have around $258 million domestic as it heads into its fourth weekend, where it will face a quiet frame ironically filled with the kind of adult-skewing studio programmers (Naomi Harris’ Black and Blue and Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Current War) that everyone claims Hollywood won’t make anymore. Presuming a 45% drop, a $16 million fourth-weekend gross will give it a $274 million domestic cume, just over the $273 million cume of Gravity to become the biggest-grossing September/October release ever outside of It ($327 million). Yes, they are all Warner Bros. movies, which makes sense since the Dream Factory essentially pioneered the whole “summer movie but not in the summer” release with Demolition Man back in 1993.
The question is to what extent Terminator: Dark Fate (opening overseas today and expanding over the next five days) will impact Joker outside of North America. Presuming the damage is minimal, the film could have around $818 million worldwide by Sunday, putting a $855 million cume (above both Wolf Warrior 2 and Venom) in sight. When it passes Venom, it’ll be, sans inflation, the biggest Fall release ever in global grosses. A $757 million cume puts it past the $745 million cume of Suicide Squad (and near the $773 million cume of Guardians of the Galaxy), while a likely over/under $815 million global cume this weekend puts it within spitting distance of Wonder Woman ($821 million).
Speaking of Suicide Squad, the sheer size of Joker’s box office suggests that at least part of the David Ayers flick’s $325 million domestic and $745 million global gross was due to Jared Leto’s extended cameo as the Clown Prince of Crime. Sure, the Internet seems to think it was the worst thing ever, but general audiences probably didn’t give his ten minutes of screen time much thought. Blaming Jared Leto for Suicide Squad is like blaming Halle Berry for Die Another Day. If we argue that three big factors for Suicide Squad were Margot Robbie as Harley Quin, Will Smith as Deadshot and Jared Leto as Joker, then James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is in a curious situation.
Without predicting gloom-n-doom, the sequel will be a precarious “five-years-later” installment (see - LEGO Movie 2, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pacific Rim: Uprising) with a new director and without the most trailer-friendly character (Joker) and the most potent butts-in-seats box office draw (Will Smith as Deadshot). Yes, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn will be back (along with Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller and Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang among others), but she’ll first get the spotlight in February’s Birds of Prey, so her return in The Suicide Squad could be less of a big deal. After all, audiences falling in love with Wonder Woman didn’t “save” Justice League.
That said, James Gunn will have earned goodwill from Guardians of the Galaxy. DC Films will have (hopefully) continued goodwill from Wonder Woman 1984, Birds of Prey and The Batman. It would be ironic if James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, one without Will Smith or Joker, played the same role as Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, signaling that DC Films, as a brand, can justify even the most unlikely of hits. You can argue that Joker already made that case, so that’s good news for the Suicide Squad sequel. Either way, if DC Films really can sell almost anything within the DC Comics library, then I might finally get my grimdark Detective Chimp movie!