Welcome to the Box Office Oracle–where new movies are pitted against each other for box office supremacy and only one can claim victory. Each week, I will be doing a quick box office prediction for all wide new releases. Sorry, obscure indie films I’ve never heard of, but you aren’t going to be discussed here unless you become big.
This is also something I’m going to keep as free of “controversy” if I can. This means that if, I don’t know, Jon Voight is voicing an evil government agent talking bear in a DreamWorks movie, I’m not going to make a bunch of Trump jokes. If a Tom Cruise actioner comes out, I’m not going to make a bunch of Scientology cracks. You get the idea. I want for this to be kept fun and simple.
So, without any further discussion, let’s get into this weekend’s solo big release, Joker.
So….you’ve maybe heard of this movie, right?
This week I’m handling things slightly differently than I normally do, in that because this is getting up late, I have Thursday preview screening numbers to work with. I’ve also gone to the movie I’m making a prediction for, which is a first for me with this column. Put in a sentence, Joker saw a great start yesterday at an estimated $13 million, which beats the October record Venom set last year. What does that mean for the rest of the weekend? That remains to be seen.
There’s a good chance, of course, that Joker is going to be front-loaded. Fanboys showing up right away are typical for the genre, but what sets Joker apart is that it’s by no means your average comic book movie, as you’ve no doubt read by now. It’s not an action film, it’s gritty and bleak, and in many ways functions in the same vein as classics like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, with a little Black Swan and Alfred Hitchcock thrown in for good measure, along with some social commentary on Reagan-era politics.
In other words, it’s hardly the stuff of blockbuster cinema. And while it’s going to have more than its fair share of fans (I’m among them, but more on that later), it’s also going to take many audiences aback, similar to 2009’s R-rated Watchmen, which is a pretty good comparison for how this movie could potentially open huge and then fizzle quickly from there. And that could even happen this weekend, depending on word-of-mouth.
There’s also (sighs) the requirement for me to slightly break my “no controversy” rule here and get into what’s been unfortunately been dominating the headlines for Joker this week: the alleged threats of mass shootings taking place at film screenings, similar to The Dark Knight Rises tragedy of 2012. Regardless of what many might say, this kind of talk is never good for a film, and I expect for it to have an ever-so-moderate impact on ticket sales. I would bet that afternoon showings won’t be affected–people are less squeamish about such things when the sun’s still in the sky–but for Friday night screenings when the crowds will be there, that could potentially be a problem. I’m not saying it will be a major one, but it could keep a fair amount of would-be audience members at home.
Still, things are looking pretty good for Joker overall, but I’m still going to be somewhat conservative with my prediction and give it $79 million, rather than the $100 million debut some are projecting it to have.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Go: If you’ve liked the trailers, the movie delivers exactly what they promise. Joker is unlike any comic book movie you’ve ever seen.
Why Your Fortune Cookie Tells You To Stay Away: If you’re in the mood for spectacle, you’re not going to get that from Joker. Also, as you’ve probably guessed, the movie is pretty disturbing, much like the films it takes its inspiration from. So if you’re not wanting that, stay away.
Today’s Lucky Lotto Numbers: $79 million opening; $170 million finish.
Other fun stuff…
* While this is a movie that people are probably going to have a “love it or hate it” vibe towards for a while, I myself was personally blown away by Joker, and was left feeling pretty floored by it. “Holy shit,” I murmured to myself several times as the credits rolled, staring up at the ceiling of the theater as though I had been punched in the face a few times.
* Though it’s violent and rated R for a reason, Joker actually features far fewer deaths than The Dark Knight, which was rated PG-13.
* Having said that, please don’t bring your kids, stupid parents who probably thought they were going to an Adam West movie.
* Abominable–which has seen very poor weekdays despite topping the box office last week–is a very sweet film with gorgeous animation.
* Next week brings a slew of new releases, including Gemini Man (will poor reviews hurt it?), The Addams Family (which I not only expect to overperform, but I think it might even have a shot at opening at number one), and Jexi (which has some funny TV spots, but could drown under too much competition).
* What will you be doing this weekend? Joker? Lion King again (which you can do, as it’s still playing)? Sound off in the comments!