‘Joker’ gets last laugh, setting a record on North American screens

Source:AFP Published: 2019/10/7 16:58:39

Director Todd Phillips (right) and Joaquin Phoenix attend the 76th Venice Film Festival on September 7. Photo: IC

 Warner Bros' Joker has survived the intense controversy over its violent themes to take in an estimated $93.5 million in North American theaters this weekend, setting a record for an October release, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Joker provides the backstory for the rise of Batman's maniacal nemesis, painting a dark and disturbing portrayal of a would-be stand-up comedian's descent into madness. 

The film, directed by Todd Phillips (maker of The Hangover trilogy), has drawn tepid reviews; the Washington Post called it "grim, shallow [and] distractingly derivative." But Hollywood Reporter said the R-rated film got a B+ CinemaScore rating and earned 69 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website. 

Universal's family-friendly Abominable placed a distant second at the box office, earning $12 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period in its second weekend. It tells the story of a teen and her friends trying to help a young Yeti reunite with its family.

In third, at $8 million, was Focus Features' Downton Abbey, the cinematic follow-up to the hit TV series about an upper-class family and their stately home in a changing Britain. The movie has the Crawleys and their earnest staff scrambling to prepare for an unexpected visit by the British royals.

Hustlers from STX Films placed fourth, at $6.3 million. The Jennifer Lopez movie is based on a true story about strippers who plot to steal from their wealthy clients in recession-hit New York.

And in fifth was horror film IT: Chapter Two, at $5.4 million. The Warner Bros movie features the grown-up versions of the kids who battled the terrifying clown Pennywise 27 years earlier as they are forced do it again.

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