Artsy and dark Joker still dominates box office
From left, Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips work behind the scenes during filming of Joker.
October 17, 2019
Taking the No. 1 spot (with authority) at the U.S. box for the second consecutive weekend, Joker sold another $55 million, bringing the flick’s 10-day domestic sales total to $192 million ($544 million worldwide). Whoa. Todd Phillips, Box Office King. Joaquin Phoenix, Most Searched Person on the Internet.
This is an anomaly. Never before has a film this artsy, this dark, or this controversial taken over the world to the degree Joker has. And on top of the box office success, Joker is already being talked about as an Oscar film, with Phoenix getting a lot of Best Actor buzz, Phillips getting Best Director buzz, and the film getting Best Picture buzz.
That being said, most of the year’s likely-best films of the year will be coming out over the course of the next 11 or so weeks. Speaking of, have you seen the trailer for Jojo Rabbit yet? I’d call it the “best trailer of 2019” had Joker not come out with one of the all-time great trailers earlier this year already. What a spoil of films we have ahead of us.
Also at the Box
United Artists’ animated update of The Addams Family opened strong last weekend, taking the No. 2 spot at a mostly-lazy domestic box office, selling just over $30 million over its first three days of release. This one not only looks fun, but features an incredible voice actor cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, ScreenTime hero Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess, and Aimee Garcia. That’s an all-time great cast of talent. Also, the animation is said to be incredible.
Taking the No. 3 spot at last weekend’s domestic box office was Ang Lee’s new film, Gemini Man, starring normal Will Smith and younger digital Will Smith. The flick, despite some pretty sassy reviews (mostly focusing on how the film was produced in a manner that theaters aren’t able to properly screen), brought in $20.5 million over its first three days of release. Add in foreign sales and Gemini already has just under $60 million in sales. Remember back when Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Ride with the Devil, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman) used to make great films? I miss the old Ang Lee.
Abominable continued to calmly bring people out to the theater, taking the No. 4 spot at last weekend’s box office with another $6.1 million in sales, pushing the film over the $100 million mark worldwide.
And finally we have the surprise hit of the season, the Downton Abbey film, which sold another $5 million, upping the flick’s four-week worldwide sales total to just over $150 million. That’s a whole lot for a film that was produced on a small budget and essentially just a long episode of a sorta-niche television show.
Kinda makes you wonder how well the Breaking Bad film, El Camino, which just premiered on Netflix, would have done had it been released theatrically. By the way, that movie is worth checking out. It’s really just a long episode of the show, but it’s a good watch.
Also of note: Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: Last Blood continued to bomb, selling just $1.5 million last weekend, bringing the film’s four-week total to just $43 million. Oof. So far the film brought in only $24 million in sales abroad. Can’t win ’em all, Sly.
New this Week
Two major wide releases and two major art house releases open this weekend, starting with Buena Vista’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, starring Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Juno Temple, Elle Fanning, Lesley Manville, Sam Riley, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Great cast, but probably a bad movie.
Also out everywhere is the very promising action-comedy sequel Zombieland: Double Tap, directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Zoey Deutch, and ScreenTime dream girl Rosario Dawson. Great director, incredible cast. I have to believe that this cast wouldn’t let this movie happen unless the script was really, really good. So I think this is one to bet on. I think it’ll be a great time at the movies.
And now, the indies. Two possible new classics will start test screening in major markets this weekend, starting with Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, an odd, beautiful, artsy-looking movie that is one of the most promising films of the year that has not yet been released. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this one goes down as my favorite movie of 2019.
Also out in major markets is the new A24 film The Lighthouse, directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch) and starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. This film was also mentioned in last week’s column about the most promising movies of 2019. It’s black and white, it’s artsy, it’s a chamber piece, Pattinson was drunk for the filming of the entire movie, and it looks like an instant classic. If you’re a fan of the Criterion Collection (or just art films in general), this is something you should be very excited about.
Can’t wait for these two. They’re both films that, if I were still living in NYC, I would get out and see on release day.
The end of the decade is near, and all the websites, magazines, newspapers, and critics are starting to compile and release their “Best of the Decade” lists.
ScreenTime will, of course, offer up our own Favorite Films and Favorite Performances lists in late December.
Until then, feel free to email me your lists at email@example.com. Or, if not a list, just let me know what film you think I might overlook or forget. Or just tell me which film stands out to you as the best of the decade. Do it. Write me.