‘Joker’ gets last laugh, setting a record on North American screens

LOS ANGELES Warner Bros.' Joker has survived the

intense controversy over its violent themes to take in an estimated $93.5

million in North American theaters this weekend, setting a record for an

October release, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Joker provides the backstory for the rise of

Batman's maniacal nemesis, painting a dark and disturbing portrayal of a

would-be stand-up comedian's descent into madness.

Amid fears that it might inspire violence a shooting at a 2012 screening

of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado claimed 12 lives some

theaters provided extra security for the opening of Joker.

The film, directed by Todd Phillips (maker of The Hangover trilogy), has

drawn tepid reviews; the Washington Post called it grim, shallow (and)

distractingly derivative. But Hollywood Reporter said the R-rated film got a

B+ CinemaScore rating and earned 69 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Universal's family-friendly Abominable placed a distant second at the box

office, earning $12 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period in its second

weekend. It tells the story of a teen and her friends trying to help a young

Yeti reunite with its family as a wealthy man seeks to capture it as a prize.

In third, at $8 million, was Focus Features' Downton Abbey, the cinematic

follow-up to the hit TV series about an upper-class family and their stately

home in a changing Britain. The movie has the Crawleys and their earnest

staff scrambling to prepare for an unexpected visit by the British royals.

Hustlers from STX Films placed fourth, at $6.3 million. The Jennifer

Lopez movie is based on a true story about strippers who plot to steal from

their wealthy clients in recession-hit New York.

And in fifth was horror film IT: Chapter Two, at $5.4 million. The Warner

Bros. movie features the grown-up versions of the kids who battled the

terrifying clown Pennywise 27 years earlier as they are forced do it again.

Rounding out the weekend's top 10 were:

Ad Astra ($4.6 million)

Judy ($4.4 million)

Rambo: Last Blood ($3.6 million)

War ($1.6 million)

Good Boys ($900,000)

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)