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Joaquin Phoenix portrays Arthur Fleck in Warner Bros. “Joker.”

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. certainly has something to smile about this weekend.

“Joker” hauled in $93.5 million in its opening weekend, the highest debut for a film released in October in cinematic history.

“Venom,” a film about the origins of the Spider-Man villain of the same name, was the previous record holder with $80.2 million.

“Joker” also had the biggest first day opening in October, selling $39 million worth of tickets between Thursday night previews and Friday showings. 

The film garnered $140.5 million internationally, bringing its total cume to $234 million, Warner Bros. said Sunday.

The predictions for the gritty film, which profiles a version of Batman’s infamous villain Joker, had been all over the map. Some foresaw a $50 million opening, while others thought the film would see $100 million, or more.

Of course, Sunday’s numbers are estimated, so there is a chance that once the final tally is done Monday, “Joker” could have lured more moviegoers to theaters.

“Since the very first teaser trailer, ‘Joker’ quickly became the most talked about movie of the year, a must-see cinematic event whose box-office fortunes were bolstered by critical acclaim, a stunning performance by Joaquin Phoenix and the controversy that surrounded the film,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.

After receiving rave reviews from its debut at the Venice Film Festival in August, “Joker” has drawn more criticism as it heads toward its opening on Friday. The Warner Bros. film currently holds a 69% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

While some have praised Todd Phillips’ story and direction, and Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal, many have questioned whether the film, which depicts mass murder, could unintentionally be portraying Joker as a heroic or inspirational figure.

Others wondered if comic book fans, who have supported action-packed superhero flicks in the past, would be drawn to a more subdued character piece.

While the record-breaking opening is impressive, many analysts are more interested in seeing how the film performs in its second weekend. Ticket sales typically drop off during a film’s second week, how much depends on fan reaction. If fans post positive reviews on social media, those that skipped out on seeing “Joker” in its first week may be enticed to see it the following week.

However, if the fan reaction is negative, the film could see a massive drop in ticket sales during its second weekend.

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