The Joker has pulled off no shortage of gags, boners, and heists since he first popped up in Batman #1 in April of 1940, but the Clown Prince of Crime has officially netted his biggest score yet. A box office report from Forbes notes that Todd Phillips‘ Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix will reach a global total of $957 million by the end of November 8, making it the most profitable comic book movie of all time on a reported budget of $62.5 million.
Joker would be toppling the former record holder The Mask, which nabbed $351 million on a $23 million budget in 1994. Other notable names on the list are Venom ($854 million on a $90 million budget), Batman ($411 million on a $35 million budget), and Deadpool ($783 million on a $58 million budget).
The potential future this situation presents is vurry intriguing. Warner Bros. was reportedly a bit wary about Joker given its R-rating and subject matter—which resulted in the relatively tiny budget— but the film’s undeniable success makes the case for smaller-budgeted and hyper-focused stories told separately from the studio’s main DC Universe. It’s been a long, bumpy trial-and-error process for Warner Bros. in figuring out how to build their connected DC landscape, and while they’ve had major success recently with mostly standalone-ish entries like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam!, making movies with those types of production budgets—$150 million, $160 million, and $100 million, respectively—obviously comes with inherent risks.
There is also the obvious matter of a hypothetical Joker sequel. Phillips and Phoenix were initially adamant that the origin story was meant to be a one-and-done affair—and Phoenix is just the sort of guy you can’t see getting roped into a multi-movie saga—but those dollar signs sure are doing a stair jig in front of Warner Bros.’ eyes. Plus, it appears Phoenix has warmed up to the idea, at least somewhat; he remains committed to saying a sequel won’t happen, but he did make some fake Joker 2 posters for Todd Phillips. You know, just for laughs.