The Joker has pulled off no shortage of gags, boners, and heists since he first popped up in Batman #1 in April of 1940, but the Clown Prince of Crime has officially netted his biggest score yet. A box office report from Forbes notes that Todd Phillips‘ Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix will reach a global total of $957 million by the end of November 8, making it the most profitable comic book movie of all time on a reported budget of $62.5 million.
Joker would be toppling the former record holder The Mask, which nabbed $351 million on a $23 million budget in 1994. Other notable names on the list are Venom ($854 million on a $90 million budget), Batman ($411 million on a $35 million budget), and Deadpool ($783 million on a $58 million budget).
The potential future this situation presents is vurry intriguing. Warner Bros. was reportedly a bit wary about Joker given its R-rating and subject matter—which resulted in the relatively tiny budget— but the film’s undeniable success makes the case for smaller-budgeted and hyper-focused stories told separately from the studio’s main DC Universe. It’s been a long, bumpy trial-and-error process for Warner Bros. in figuring out how to build their connected DC landscape, and while they’ve had major success recently with mostly standalone-ish entries like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam!, making movies with those types of production budgets—$150 million, $160 million, and $100 million, respectively—obviously comes with inherent risks.
There is also the obvious matter of a hypothetical Joker sequel. Phillips and Phoenix were initially adamant that the origin story was meant to be a one-and-done affair—and Phoenix is just the sort of guy you can’t see getting roped into a multi-movie saga—but those dollar signs sure are doing a stair jig in front of Warner Bros.’ eyes. Plus, it appears Phoenix has warmed up to the idea, at least somewhat; he remains committed to saying a sequel won’t happen, but he did make some fake Joker 2 posters for Todd Phillips. You know, just for laughs.
For more on Joker, here’s the latest on Martin Scorsese‘s original involvement, our full review of the film, and my thoughts on why this extremely profitable movie is kinda boring. Jokes on me, I guess!