U.K. Box Office: Joker Crashes Downton Abbey’s Three-Week Reign And Becomes The Fifth-Highest Opening Of 2019

This weekend of October 4-6, 2019, saw two major films being released in U.K. cinemas. 

Joker Tops The U.K. Box Office

Ever since Todd Phillips won the prestigious Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival in Italy, his film Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix has been anticipated. The film has been viewed as a clear tribute to the films of Martin Scorsese, such as Taxi Driver and King of Comedy. The critics’ reviews are very divided. Some proclaim it a masterpiece, while others have completely dismissed the film for its darkness and outright violence. With the intensifying hype around the film for the past few weeks, it is therefore no surprise that Joker would do so well in the box office.

Showing in 666 cinemas (was that number intended?) across the U.K., Warner Bros’ Joker made an opening weekend gross of £12.5 million. The film has a site average of £18,852. This is equivalent to what a film like Deadpool made on its opening weekend back in February 2016. Twentieth Century Fox’s Deadpool had taken £13.7 million, including £3.7 million from previews, on its opening weekend. Joker is an origin story of the well-known villain from the Batman comics. The character has famously been interpreted many times onscreen by prominent actors such as Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger (to only name two). In Phillips’ film, Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a wannabe stand-up comedian, who eventually turns to violence and becomes the character that we know of as the Joker.

Judy Arrives Second

This weekend also saw the release of another much-anticipated film. Judy, starring Renée Zellweger, was directed by Rupert Goold, the artistic director of the Almeida Theater in London. He made his first feature film in 2015, True Story, starring James Franco and Jonah Hill. 

The film made an opening weekend of over £2 million, including £535,632 from previews. Showing in 633 movie theaters across the U.K., the film has a site average of £3,297, according to the BFI box office report. This is one of the films this weekend that must have suffered from being released at the same time as Phillips’ Joker.

Judy relates the life of the legendary American singer and actress, Judy Garland, who was one of the premiere child stars in Hollywood after her performance as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Judy was adapted by Tom Edge from the Oliver- and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play by Peter Quilter, End of the Rainbow. Renée Zellweger, who stars as Judy Garland, is bound to receive nominations for her stellar performance in the upcoming award season. The film also stars Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock and Rufus Sewell. 

The Top 5: ‘Downton Abbey’ Falls to Third Place

With the release of Joker and JudyDownton Abbey has therefor fallen to the third place for the first time since its release. Now in its fourth week in cinemas, Downton Abbey made a weekend gross of £1.46 million, a 46% drop from the previous week. Showing in 668 cinemas across the U.K., the film now has a site average of £2,187. Downton Abbey has now a total gross to date of £23.1 million.

Hustlers is now in fourth place. The STX Entertainment film took £590,646 this weekend, showing in 415 movie theaters, a 42% drop from last week. Lorene Scafaria’s film, starring Jennifer Lopez, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B, Julia Stiles and Constance Wu, now has a total gross of £6.17 million after four weeks in U.K. cinemas. The film has a site average this weekend of £1,423.

James Gray’s thriller in space Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt, is now in fifth place in this weekend’s box office. The film made a weekend gross of £467,983, showing in 511 cinemas, a 64% drop from the previous week. The film now has a total gross of over £5.5 million after three weeks in U.K. theaters.

I am a film historian and filmmaker, interested in the history and theory of cinema, as well as the technology behind the making of films. I specialize in European cinem...