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Warner Bros.' bad call on Joker to be expensive

Oct. 27, 2019 4:59 PM ETTBy: Douglas W. House, SA News Editor84 Comments
  • Blockbuster "Joker", the top-grossing R-rated film of all time with a global take of more than $788M to date, has investors giddy over the financial windfall, all except producer Warner Bros.
  • The company, lacking confidence that it would be as big a winner as its DC comic-book lineup, sold a substantial share of the film to outsiders during development, an expected prudent decision since it considered it a stand-alone project rather than a launchpad for sequels and spinoffs.
  • Star Joaquin Phoenix and Director Todd Phillips are, no doubt, happy, having secured generous profit participation deals, increasingly uncommon with expected blockbusters.
  • "Joker" has not broken all records just yet. Its domestic take of ~$259M is second to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ," which grossed almost $371M, tops for an R-rated movie.

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Comments (84)

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sunnybadger profile picture
Oversaturation of MCU Disney films will lead to bounceback of DC at some point. The biggest flaw of suicide squad was lack of joker presence, and they compensated for that with a whole movie dedicated to the guy. Glad to to see DC pull out well on this one; it's fun watching the top mouse not always getting the cheese
nerd_rage profile picture
Hard to fault them on this. I wouldn't have bet a lot of money on a strange brand extension of the DC universe doing so well. Joker is a comic book movie in (brand) name only. It's pretty interesting that the brand can be extended this far and still be successful. DC should try this approach some more. However, the next attempt could be a flop...
"Its domestic take of ~$259M is second to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ,"

It's actually the 7th highest grossing R film domestically behind"

The Passion of Christ
American Sniper
Deadpool 2
The Matrix Reloaded

May be that the link is world wide vs. domestic? Didn’t spend much time looking at it but I have a hard time believing IT came out ahead of joker domestic.

A quick check shows last week Joker passed Deadpool to become the highest grossing R rated worldwide.

A far as being behind It domestically, Joker has only been out for 24 days so it still making it's way up the list....here are current Domestic numbers for R rated films:

The Passion of the Christ - $370,782,930
Deadpool - $363,070,709
American Sniper - $350,126,372
It - $327,481,748
Deadpool 2 - $324,591,735
The Matrix Reloaded - $281,576,461
Joker - $277,931,557
Chancer profile picture
Too bad that a board of directors including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd, could not make a better decision. What's up doc?
Vlae Kershner profile picture
Scrooge McDuck was afraid of losing money.
As a T investor, I am slightly disappointed in their judgment but like others have pointed out the positive reception will probably pay off for the brand going forward. However as a Joaquin Phoenix fan I'm elated he worked out such a strong deal and now that I know he's benefiting from profit-sharing I might go see the film again!
This just proves people may increase in age but will never grow up. They are still looking at superheroes in tight shorts and speedo costumes. People want to love in fantasy.
Loung3r profile picture
This movie has neither of those. No hero. No spandex. Very different then what marvel and dc have been pumping out.
This just proves people claim something ...
1) without doing proper research
2) without "brain"
3) without the ability to understand what's going on around them
4) etc.

The sad thing is: those ppl are allowed to go to elections ...
The good thing is: those ppl usually make bad decisions which makes the smarter ones richer on behalf of them

Cheers :*
Any word on how much exactly they’re retaining of the profits? Are they keeping 20%, 50%, 75%? Do we know the ballpark? I assume it’s still pretty high because even allowing outside investors to take 25% of profits would be a lot but I’ve not heard any numbers.
I'll see joker eventually, when I'm in the right frame of mind. A friend who was it raved about it and then lambasted people who don't like it as not getting it and being typical Americans who can't deal with reality. Arrogant lol! And the movie's hugely successful, so why the venom? That said, for millions of people up to their eyeballs in pain, negativity, thwarted by circumstances etc -- they don't require a work of fiction to explain it all to them, savvy?
Insouciant Investor profile picture
Kind of dumb to say a hit movie is going to be bad for WB.

Regardless of the money a hit movie is (1) great marketing for the DC brand and (2) will be a big draw for HBO Max when it comes out.
P M D profile picture
True as far as it goes, but in an industry that relies on unpredictable hits for the majority of its profit, leaving money on the table like that has to be disappointing.
Windsun33 profile picture
For the past 10 years or so, what would Hollywood do without comic book heroes and the endless sequels of same? Have not seen Joker, may watch when it comes out for rent, but it just seems like Hollywood has not had an original plot movie since it got into this whole DC/Marvel etc. thing.
I couldn’t agree with you more! I loathe all of the comic book BS that we have in theatre’s these days. But this one was very different and that’s why I liked it so much.
MBA studio heads won't greenlight an original script. They need something pitched to them that is like a big hit -- or two or three big hits -- from a year ago.
This is how it goes. Look at star wars. The Godfather. They don’t actually recognize great films just the stuff with lots of explosions. They can predict that audience and know how to budget it. But they don’t recognize actual good films that blow up.
“Transformers 84? Yeah 62% of boys age 12-X are going to....” budget, set.
Real acting? Controversial subject matter? Who the hell knows! Better play it safe Incase the mothers against clown violence mount a protest and Ellen tells her fans not to watch.
So sharing profits with the actors/directors is now a money problem for T? Give it a rest
Joker is just another high stakes game where we get to see usa kick ass but thats feeding us a line of malarkey we cant even kick ass in the invading groups against american interest show me a movie that lets us know we are being beat called americas best buresing by a corprate giant and 5 major countries backing there play
Okay then. Maybe don’t get high and try watching it again.
You obviously have not seen the movie. You wouldn’t have made this comment if you had...
Did the bad guys gain any perspective
HardCovenant profile picture
Reminds me of when Disney told Arnon Milchan they would back and distribute Pretty Woman but Arnon would have to raise half the budget and Disney gave away half...no guts no glory

The magic of the Game of Thrones throne was rubbing off on T management, its presence in T HQ, then in the T HQ building remodel they physically removed the throne so expect more uninspired decisionmaking
I have not seen the movie, but as a long-time T investor I was thrilled to see how well it has been performing ($850+ million worldwide as I type this... will undoubtedly reach $1B in less than 2 weeks). For comparison, this is much more than JUSTICE LEAGUE and BATMAN V SUPERMAN, both titles which were supposed to be sure bets. I was hoping this surprising but welcome turn of events would help tomorrow's earnings report and/or guidance. But, yet again, the folks behind T and Warner prove how clueless they are...
03 Nov. 2019
Warner sold off much of the rights to help cover production costs
27 Oct. 2019
It was a horrible movie. Talked to someone else coming out of movie and someone told him it was a good movie and he felt he was lied to
Yes, condones revenge violence and barbaric brutality for the sake of cupidity—- I. E. Garbage
the movie's not condoning anything. hence the word movie. a fictitious character that's like saying the actor has no sense of right or wrong. I . think people are just a little more wound up than they used to be and that I can understand with the way the world is right now. I think people just have to lighten up and take it for what it is. a movie. with a very good actor portraying the Joker
I’m glad the two of you found each other! What are the odds?
Gary Glitter will be happy. I hope the royalties go to his victims. The real Joker of the piece.
Dividend Dojo profile picture
Gary Glitters isn't getting any royalties from Joker. Zero, zilch, nada $.

Pro Tip: Research before you write.
Never said he did smartypants. Pro Tip. Don't make assumptions before you Troll. The royalties still won't support his victims.
64transformation profile picture
another cluster**** decision likejohn stinkey as next CEO
amazing film
As an Actor,
Joaquin is one of the top 5.
you got that right
Fed up with DiNero & Pacino. Step aside permanently. At least, DiNero. He’ll do most anything for the almighty $!
he'll do it because people will always watch A Gifted actor. I don't think he really needs the money and you just don't take a master and set him aside. you respect him. it's not about the money he enjoys what he does and if you don't like it don't watch it. I can't believe some of the comments that I'm reading here. putting way too much thought into this movie. I remember the Heath Ledger Joker when there was a thought that the character had something to do with his death. that's insane. some of these comments here are more insane then the character itself. great actor great movie and more to come I hope.
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