This upcoming weekend, the highly anticipated (and highly controversial) Joker film hits theaters. Perhaps the biggest movie that Joaquin Phoenix has starred in since Her in 2013, audiences are ready to drive in droves for a film starring Batman’s greatest villain.
Phoenix hasn’t exactly had a blockbuster career, but several of his films have crossed the $100 million mark domestically, and others have neared $500 million worldwide. And since 2000, he’s been nominated for three different Oscars.
So what have been the most lucrative movies of Phoenix’s career? And how much would Joker need to earn this upcoming weekend to put itself on a path to become No. 1? Let’s take a look.
Phoenix made his film debut in Space Camp way back in 1986. Since, he has starred in a non-cameo, non-bit role in 31 different films that played in the U.S. and 25 different films that played worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
In total his 31 films have amassed over $1 billion domestically and $1.8 million worldwide. That’s an average of $32.9 million per movie in the U.S. and $75.4 million per movie globally.
Domestically, Phoenix’s highest-grossing film was Signs. Released during director M. Night Shyamalan’s heyday in 2002, that film amassed $60.1 million on opening weekend and $228 million by the end of its U.S. run.
In terms of international gross, however, Signs comes in second with $408.2 million. The top dog in Phoenix’s career was the film that earned him his first Oscar nomination: Gladiator. Back in 2000, Ridley Scott’s film pulled in $187.7 million domestically and $460.6 million worldwide.
Beyond those juggernauts, Phoenix only had four other films cross the $100 million mark internationally: The Village, Walk the Line, Parenthood and Ladder 49.
Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the hard numbers for Phoenix’s filmography.
Since Joker hasn’t been released yet, let’s look at Phoenix’s biggest box office openings domestically:
- Signs ($60.1 million)
- The Village ($50.7 million)
- Gladiator ($34.8 million)
- Walk the Line ($22.3 million)
- Ladder 49 ($22.1 million)
When we account for ticket price inflation, those totals adjust a bit:
- Signs ($93.2 million)
- The Village ($73.6 million)
- Gladiator ($58.2 million)
- Ladder 49 ($32 million)
- Walk the Line ($31.4 million)
The best opening weekend of all time during the month of October belongs to 2018’s Venom, and industry experts expect Joker to hit those kinds of numbers. If that was the case, Joker would easily top Phoenix’s best opening weekend, and even challenge Phoenix’s No. 1 film after inflation.
In terms of lifetime domestic gross, here are Phoenix’s rankings:
- Signs ($228 million)
- Gladiator ($187.7 million)
- Walk the Line ($119.5 million)
- The Village ($114.2 million)
- Parenthood ($100 million)
- Ladder 49 ($74.5 million)
And here’s how each of those totals adjusts after inflation:
- Signs ($353.5 million)
- Gladiator ($313.7 million)
- Parenthood ($226.4 million)
- Walk the Line ($167.1 million)
- The Village ($165.7 million)
- Ladder 49 ($108.1 million)
Given the DC Universe’s success over the course of seven films, it would be no surprise to witness Joker become Phoenix’s top-grossing film to date. Wonder Woman pulled in $412.5 million; Aquaman made $335.1 million; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice raked in $330.4 million.
Joker’s numbers aren’t expected to hit those DC highs, but predictions from experts put the film’s box office hopes somewhere between Justice League and Shazam! That would mean Joker could easily top the $200 million mark.
Finally, there are the worldwide rankings for Phoenix’s career:
- Gladiator ($460.6 million)
- Signs ($408.2 million)
- The Village ($256.7 million)
- Walk the Line ($186.4 million)
- Parenthood ($126.3 million)
- Ladder 49 ($100.6 million)
Obviously Joker will top several of those films. But can it approach the $500 million mark?
Again, if we look at DC’s history at the box office: yes. Obviously Joker won’t reach the heights of Aquaman (which grossed $1.15 billion worldwide) or Batman v Superman ($873.6 billion). But Joker should be able to top Shazam!, which pulled in $364.5 million globally. And if Joker came anywhere near Justice League’s heights of $657.9 million, it would easily become Phoenix’s top-grossing film.