It swept through theatres spectacularly last fall, and now it’s proving just as marketable on streaming. Todd Phillips’ supervillain hit Joker has been the most popular movie on HBO Max since the service launched, according to a study from Reelgood. To date, Joker has made up 7.3% of all movie streams, the highest share of any film. For context, that figure is followed by sci-fi drama Ad Astra at 5.2%, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at 2.4%.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Joker made a marked impression on viewers, one that ensured it grossed one of the most remarkable billions in box office history. More than just the R-rating that would historically preclude blockbuster returns (films like Deadpool and It have broken that orthodoxy), it’s Joker’s disturbing psychological content that makes its success so noteworthy.
The only antecedent I can think of – another of those R-rated trailblazers – is Logan, whose mediation on mortality hardly seemed the stuff of mainstream gold. It’s inspiriting to be proved wrong. But as far as numbers go, Joker has taken the adult-blockbuster market to another level. Expect many copycats when film production kicks into gear again.
Now, what does it say about human beings that HBO’s most popular movie since we all got locked up at home has been a claustrophobic exercise in nihilism? Does it say anything at all? Probably not. Does the film’s nihilism – and subsequent success – say anything, either? There are only so many questions to fill the time with. If you’ve got any answers of your own, leave them in the comments section below. Joker’s bleak outlook feels more in keeping with 2020 than it does with 2019, that’s for sure.