With a significantly lower production budget than most of its superhero counterparts and comparable box office earnings, Joker has just become the most profitable comic book film of all time.
The gritty, R-rated film has earned approximately $956 million at the worldwide box office five weeks into its wide theatrical release -- $304.2 million of its current total from the domestic box office where the studio receives a larger percentage of ticket sales. With a reported production budget of $62.5 million and a relatively smaller marketing budget than most major tentpole films, Joker has earned 15.3 times its budget from its box office haul to date.
For comparison, the previous record-holder -- 1994's The Mask, starring Jim Carrey -- earned $353 million worldwide on a production budget of $23 million. Additional examples of profitable comic book movies include 2018's Venom -- which earned $854 million worldwide on a budget of $90 million -- and 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, earning $200 million on a $13.5 million budget.
Joker is widely expected by industry analysts to reach the $1 billion mark before the end of its initial theatrical run, a feat made all the more impressive considering the film is not expected to be approved by the Chinese government for wide release due to its depiction of widespread social unrest. The Chinese market -- which is the second-largest movie market in the world -- has been an increasingly lucrative audience for Hollywood over the past decade, buoying Disney's latest offerings to multiple billion-dollar earnings.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. Joker is now in theaters.