Box Office: Even After $1 Billion, ‘Joker’ Still Isn’t Joaquin Phoenix’s Most Successful Film

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As you might have observed over the past few days, Joker finally crossed the $1 billion threshold, becoming the 44th movie ever to achieve a nine-figure gross. That is far and away makes Joker the highest-grossing movie of Joaquin Phoenix’s career.

Or…does it? In terms of worldwide gross, yes. Joker far outshines Gladiator’s $461 million total, Signs’ $408 million and The Village’s $257 million.

In fact, when you look at the domestic totals for each of Phoenix’s movies, it seems as though Joker is still No. 1. Here are the top seven domestic earners of his filmography, according to Box Office Mojo:

  1. Joker ($322.7 million)
  2. Signs ($228 million)
  3. Gladiator ($187.7 million)
  4. Walk the Line ($119.5 million)
  5. The Village ($114.2 million)
  6. Parenthood ($100 million)
  7. Ladder 49 ($74.5 million)

What that list doesn’t account for, however, is ticket price inflation. The average movie ticket in 2019 costs $9.01. But the average ticket in 2000? When Gladiator came out? $5.39.

Inflation allows us to look at the number of tickets sold domestically and then adjust each film’s total to even everything out. When we do that, here’s the new list:

  1. Signs ($353.5 million)
  2. Joker ($322.7 million)
  3. Gladiator ($313.7 million)
  4. Parenthood ($226.4 million)
  5. Walk the Line ($167.1 million)
  6. The Village ($165.7 million)
  7. Ladder 49 ($108.1 million)

That puts Joker a little over $30 million behind Signs, which was charging $5.81 per ticket back in 2002.

Can Joker make up that gap? Depends. Let’s look at Joker’s week-over-week totals so far at the U.S. box office:

  1. Week 1 – $137.7 million
  2. Week 2 – $80.3 million (41.7% drop)
  3. Week 3 – $40.7 million (49.4% drop)
  4. Week 4 – $27 million (33.6% drop)
  5. Week 5 – $18.6 million (31.1% drop)
  6. Week 6 – $12.7 million (31.1% drop)

Naturally, the week-over-week revenue drop has slowed. However, those Week 4-6 drops are smaller than normal for a film making this much money. This week, we can probably expect a similar 30% drop, bringing Joker’s Week 7 total to about $8 million and its grand total to $325 million.

From there, we can make a pretty good guess about Joker’s run over the next 15-or-so weeks based on how other superhero films that have crossed the $300 million mark have performed in the past. Based on evidence from movies like Suicide Squad, Deadpool 2 and Iron Man, Joker’s week-over-week earnings will undoubtedly start to decrease and fluctuate more as bigger movies hit the market.

Using those standards, it’s reasonable to expect Joker to make about $13 million between Weeks 8-12, putting its 12-week total at about $338 million—still $15 million shy of Signs.

From there, Joker would have 10 weeks or so to make up the gap. It’s likely Joker would end its run with approximately the same earnings as Signs—but we simply won’t know until that time. Until then, we’ll continue to track Joker’s week-over-week progress to see if it can make up the gap.

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