‘Joker’ Had the Best Second Weekend of Any DC Movie

We consider a number of reasons why the new villain showcase might just be the most successful movie of its brand.
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on October 14th, 2019

For the amount of time it took to be made and the amount of money spent on its production, Gemini Man should be a bigger hit. If only it was about a superhero meeting and fighting his younger self. Wait, that already happened this year in Avengers: Endgame. Oh, and we saw it happen in Logan. Well, that just goes to show you that every movie should just be a name brand comic book movie. Like Joker, a crime thriller that is more successful than it should be, simply because it’s about DC Comics’ most iconic villain rather than just some random unhinged male.

But even amongst DC movies, Joker is doing surprisingly well. The key to its continued dominance of the box office is its distinction as a smaller, drama-heavy film. It’s not an action- and effects-driven blockbuster in the way that most DC movies are. As a result, Joker‘s opening weekend was not quite as huge as, say, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Yet those kinds of blockbusters are often frontloaded in their grosses and drop significantly in their second weekend. Joker is something moviegoers will wait for or decide they need to see later thanks to its popularity and word of mouth. That’s why Joker has sold more in its second weekend than Batman v Superman sold in its second weekend.

Here’s how the new movie’s second-weekend drop ranks compared to other DC movies (plus the number of tickets sold in that second weekend):

1. Aquaman (2018): -23.2% (5.8 million tickets)
2. Joker (2019): -41.9% (6.2 million tickets)
3. Wonder Woman (2017): -43.3% (6.5 million tickets)
4. Batman Begins (2005): -43.4% (4.3 million tickets)
5. The Dark Knight (2008): -52.5% (10.5 million tickets)
6. Shazam! (2019): -54.3% (2.7 million tickets)
7. Justice League (2017): -56.2% (4.5 million tickets)
8. Superman Returns (2006): -58.5% (3.3 million tickets)
9. Constantine (2005): -59.5% (1.9 million tickets)
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012): -61.4% (8 million tickets)
11. Catwoman (2004): -61.5% (1 million tickets)
12. Man of Steel (2013): -64.6% (4.9 million tickets)
13. Green Lantern (2011): -66.1% (2.2 million tickets)
14. Suicide Squad (2016): -67.4% (5.1 million tickets)
15. Watchmen (2009): -67.7% (2.4 million tickets)
16. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): -69.1% (5.9 million tickets)
17. Jonah Hex (2010): -69.7% (0.2 million tickets)

As we saw last week, Joker had the seventh-best domestic opening attendance of this century. Now it’s got the fourth-best domestic second-weekend attendance. That’s a sign of the movie’s legs. Joker had the second-best hold in its second weekend of all DC movies this century with an impressively low decrease of just 41.9 percent. And the movie in the top spot, Aquaman, had the benefit of opening during the Christmas to New Year’s break. Plus that movie started off with a smaller gross and sold fewer tickets in its second weekend, as well. Taking all factors into consideration, Joker really, truly had the greatest second-weekend success of its brand.

The phenomenon of Joker extends outside of America, too. Would a movie like this do so well worldwide if it wasn’t tied to the Batman franchise? Joker has already grossed more than $540 million globally, putting it in ninth place for the DC brand. Here’s where it ranks globally for DC movies at the point of their second-weekend global totals:

1. Aquaman (2018): $749 million
2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): $683 million
3. Joker (2019): $548 million
4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012): $537 million
5. Justice League (2017): $481 million
6. Suicide Squad (2016): $465 million
7. The Dark Knight (2008): $440 million
8. Wonder Woman (2017): $435 million
9. Man of Steel (2013): $398 million
10. Superman Returns (2006): $178 million

And that’s especially huge for an R-rated movie. While Joker is already the 19th highest-grossing movie (not adjusted for inflation) of all time worldwide, it’s the sixth for an R-rated (in the US) release. The movies ahead of it include fellow superhero movies Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and Logan, plus The Matrix Reloaded and IT. Yet Joker is ahead of where all these movies were at the same point in time of release. Respective second-weekend global totals for those five titles: $492 million, $487 million, $438 million, $364 million, and $370 million. Joker could very well wind up breaking the record on this chart.

In other box office news, Gemini Man indeed fell short of expectations, and that’s another big blow to everyone behind the high-frame-rate (HFR) format. The Addams Family overperformed, though the animated feature still sold far fewer tickets in its opening than the 1991 live-action version did and still a bit fewer than the 1993 sequel, The Addams Family Values. Not surprisingly, Bong Joon-ho’s Cannes winner Parasite, which is arguably the movie with the best buzz this year, had the best per-theater average in its very limited debut. It managed to come in 13th place despite being on only three screens! And Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (which just earned a bunch of Critics’ Choice nomination) was again the highest-grossing documentary of the weekend, now topping the $3 million mark.

Here are the weekend’s top 13 domestic release titles by the estimated number of tickets sold with new and newly wide titles in bold and totals in parentheses:

1. Joker – 6.2 million (21.5 million)
2. The Addams Family – 3.4 million (3.4 million)
3. Gemini Man – 2.3 million (2.3 million)
4. Abominable – 0.7 million (5.3 million)
5. Downton Abbey – 0.5 million (9.2 million)
6. Hustlers – 0.43 million (10.9 million)
7. Judy – 0.357 million (1.7 million)
8. IT: Chapter Two – 0.348 million (23 million)
9. Jexi – 0.345 million (0.3 million)

10. Ad Astra – 0.21 million (5.2 million)
11. Rambo: Last Blood – 0.17 million (4.8 million)
12.The Lion King – 0.08 million (60.2 million)
13. Parasite – 0.04 million (0.04 million)

All non-forecast box office figures via Box Office Mojo.


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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.