For a movie to qualify as a baseline success, it has to double its budget. On that basis, consider Joker an out-of-this-world, stratospheric marvel.
The Joaquin Phoenix thriller, which recaps the origins of the Clown Prince of Crime, has grossed $984 million against a relatively modest $55 million price tag. That means the movie has generated a 17.8% profit, making it the most profitable comic book movie of all time, reports Forbes.
Taking some other examples, this year's Avengers: Endgame took $2.797 billion worldwide, overtaking Avatar as the most financially successful movie of all time (unadjusted for inflation). However, the movie cost a whopping $356 million to make, bringing its net profit to around 8%. (As with every movie, this isn't including ancillary sales like DVDs.)
Likewise, in 2008, Christopher Nolan's tortured and brilliant The Dark Knight launched to worldwide grosses of $1.004 billion, against a budget of $185 million (profit: in the region of 6%).
Joker's record-shattering success is all the more impressive when one considers how dark and difficult the subject matter is. Phoenix's tortured portrayal of Arthur Fleck generated significant attention on the awards circuit at both Venice and Toronto, which primed a mass audience for a memorable performance that was always bound to get people talking.
So what's Joker's closest box office competition? Forbes reports: "The most profitable 'big' comic book movies are Venom ($854 million on a $90 million budget), Batman ($411 million/$35 million), Deadpool ($783 million/$58 million), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($200 million/$13.5 million) and The Mask ($351 million/$23 million)."
The big question is this: will Phoenix, and indeed the movie as a whole, clean up at the Oscars? It's widely expected the actor will be nominated, although the contentious nature of the material may cause Oscar voters to shy away from recognising the movie in other categories.