‘Joker’ opens at US$39.9 mil, eyes October record

Joaquin Phoenix plays the lead role in ‘Joker’. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: “Joker,” the controversial Warner Bros film about the deranged DC Comics villain, had the biggest opening ever for a movie released in October after taking home US$39.9 million Friday, setting the stage for an even bigger weekend.

The film may be eyeing a US$92 million weekend, based on analyst estimates, despite public criticism about violence that echoes recent mass shootings.

It’s likely to beat the previous October record holder “Venom,” which made $80.3 million in its opening weekend last year.

“‘Joker’ is looking to claim the top October weekend debut and has claimed biggest opening day for October already,” Comscore said in a statement.

In the movie, director Todd Phillips created a character study of the DC Comics super-criminal known as the Joker, tracing his evolution from a lonely man who lives with his mother and works as a clown, to an epic villain.

Warner Bros spent about US$55 million making “Joker,” or about quarter of the typical superhero-film budget – which means it can make money even if the picture fails to produce superhero-like ticket sales.

Phillips’s dark vision led to concerns the film might spark violence. Families of victims of a 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, theatre wrote the studio expressing concern.

In that incident, a man opened fire during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” a Warner Bros film about Batman.

The Century Theatre located at the Bella Terra shopping centre in Huntington Beach, California, cancelled two screenings of the movie earlier this week after the local police received information about “a possible threat.”

The Huntington Beach Police Department will provide patrols at the venue for the rest of this weekend.

The studio, part of AT&T Inc, said that the movie isn’t intended “to hold this character up as a hero.”

The company said it has a long history of donating to victims of violence and noted its parent in recent weeks has called on policymakers to address the “epidemic” of gun violence.