'Joker' becomes first R-rated movie to earn over $1 billion

Warner Bros.’ “Joker” will on Friday become the first R-rated movie in history to earn over $1 billion at the global box office.

Joaquin Phoenix’s twisted take on the Batman villain marks the seventh movie this year (and first that’s not from Disney or Marvel) to join the elusive billion-dollar club. Among Warner Bros.’ movies, it’s only the fourth to reach that milestone after “Aquaman” and fellow Batman films “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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Given its modest $62.5 million budget, “Joker” has become one of the most profitable movies of all time. “Joker” set numerous records since debuting on Oct. 4, including biggest domestic opening weekend for the month of October ($96 million). In the weeks leading up to its release, “Joker” elicited security concerns over its depiction of a mass murderer. It also drew outrage from the families and friends of survivors of the 2012 Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting during “The Dark Knight Rises.” But mounting concerns didn’t impact ticket sales, and “Joker” maintained a huge draw in theaters among moviegoers across the globe.

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Outside of North America, where “Joker” crossed the $300 million mark, the film has seen notable box office success in the United Kingdom ($68 million), Mexico ($43 million), South Korea ($38 million), Brazil ($34 million), and France ($38 million).

“Joker” is a crucial win for Warner Bros., despite having to split profits with co-financiers Bron Creative and Village Roadshow. Though “It: Chapter Two” became a financial hit, the studio had some major misfires this year with “The Goldfinch,” “The Kitchen,” “Blinded by the Light” and “Motherless Brooklyn.”

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Critics remain divided about “Joker,” which won the top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival and could find itself in the awards race come February. Todd Phillips (“The Hangover” trilogy) directed “Joker,” a dark look at an aspiring stand-up comedian in Gotham City who descends into madness as his career and life begin to spiral out of control. The cast also includes Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz.

This story originally appeared in Variety