It’s not exactly news to say that Joker is a big deal. The movie has made $745 million dollars worldwide so far, and certainly isn’t even done yet. Of course, box office receipts are never the whole story. Revenue and profit are too very different things, but it looks like Joker is going to make a tidy little profit for Warner Bros. At this point, the expectation is that Joker could end up adding nearly a half billion dollars to the studios bottom line, which is about on par with what Avengers: Infinity War made for Disney.
The number is nothing more than an estimate, as it takes into account what Joker is expected to bring in in the TV and home entertainment windows as well as its total box office take. But Deadline is pegging the profit for Joker to be something around $464 million when it’s all said and done.
That number is apparently just short of what Infinity War made for Marvel Studios, which was closer to an even half billion dollars. Of course, Infinity War was a much more expensive movie to make, which meant it had to make a lot more money in total in order to clear the same amount of profit that Joker apparently has.
While box office records and gross receipts are nice, at the end of the day the movie business is a business and it’s about profit. A movie can bring in lots of money but if it cost too much to produce it can end up losing money overall. That’s the threat of the major blockbusters. While they tend to make a lot of money, their expense means that even when they make money, it isn’t always all that much.
On the flip side, a smaller movie with a comparatively small budget that hits it reasonably big can end up meaning more profit to a studio even if this total box office number isn’t massive. Joker is already a much more profitable movie for WB and DC than Aquaman, even though that movie has the highest grossing global box office of any DC property.
If this were any other movie, numbers like this would have already greenlit a sequel. However, from the beginning Joker was being presented not only as a movie disconnected from the existing DCEU, but one that was going to tell a single story and then stop. While some early comments teased that a sequel was maybe possible, everybody appears to be standing by the original concept.
While the current focus on expensive blockbusters is more the norm today, and it seems to still be a successful model for many studios, in the long run, movies like Joker with more modest budgets are always going to be the safer bet. If they don’t hit with audiences the losses are less, and if they do, the profits can be much more. Joker may not produce a sequel, but we’ll have to wait and see if it produces any films trying to copy its formula.