Joker is still playing in theaters and is now only starting to slow down after setting countless box office records. The R-rated origin story started off with a bang after scoring the biggest October opening weekend in history, and has continued to go from strength to strength, becoming the most profitable comic book movie ever, the highest-grossing R-rated pic in history, and the first to cross the elusive billion dollar mark.
Not only that, but it’s also passed The Dark Knight at the box office and is now less than $60 million away from passing The Dark Knight Rises to become the biggest Batman-related blockbuster ever made. When the dust settles, the execs over at Warner Bros. will be kicking themselves for missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in profits after co-financing the project with several other production companies, after deciding that Joker was too risky of a proposition to pay for all by themselves.
That being said, it isn’t just the suits in studio boardrooms that are set to make a huge windfall from Arthur Fleck’s origin story. Following the recent reports that Joaquin Phoenix earned the tidy sum of $4.5 million for his awards-worthy performance as the title character, it looks as though director Todd Phillips is set to make over ten times as much.
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the terms of Phillips’ deal saw him take a percentage of the box office totals instead of an upfront salary, a gamble that looks to pay off handsomely for the man behind The Hangover trilogy.
“The unexpected bounty is also generating a huge payday for Phillips. Sources say the director will earn close to $100m when the dust has settled (he deferred his upfront salary in exchange for a bigger slice of the adjusted gross). In fact, the deal is similar to one he struck with Warners before the first Hangover movie, which went on to earn a surprise $467.5m worldwide in 2009 off a $35m budget (the trilogy took in $1.42bn).”
It was smart of Phillips to take a cut of the gross instead of a salary, given how difficult it was to get Joker made in the first place. That way, if the movie bombed then he didn’t stand to make much money after being responsible for a failure. Obviously that wasn’t the case though, and the man behind the latest iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime will be laughing all the way to the bank.