‘Joker’ laughs its way to October box office record

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film,

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from the film, "Joker." (Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Warner Bros.′ R-rated “Joker” has set a new record at the October box office.

Studios on Sunday estimate that the dark spin on the classic Batman villain earned an estimated $93.5 million from ticket sales in its first weekend in North American theaters. The previous October record-holder was the Spider-Man spinoff “Venom” which opened to $80 million last year.

Scrutiny over “Joker’s” violent themes resulted in multiple theater chains banning costumes and authorities in numerous cities stepping up police patrols around theaters, but security concerns did not seem to detract audiences.

Starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, “Joker” surpassed industry and studio expectations as well as its $55 million production budget.

The more family-friendly “Abominable” landed in second with $12 million. “Downton Abbey” took third with $8 million.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.