‘Joker’ is back on top

“Maleficent” sequel drops to second place.

- Jake Coyle Contributi­ng: Kim Willis, USA TODAY

NEW YORK – Put on a happy face: “Joker” is No. 1 again.

Todd Phillip’s R-rated comic-book hit regained the top spot at the weekend box office in its fourth week of release, narrowly besting “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” The sensation starring Joaquin Phoenix took in $18.9 million in ticket sales over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That came in just above the $18.5 million haul for Disney’s “Maleficent” sequel, which slid to second after a disappoint­ing No. 1 debut last weekend of $36 million. “Mistress of Evil,” starring Angelina Jolie, is performing better overseas, where it grossed $64.3 million for the weekend.

With such a close race at the top between “Joker” and “Mistress of Evil,” the order could switch when final figures are released Monday.

But ticket sales have continued to surge well past expectatio­ns for “Joker.”

This week, “Joker” became the most successful R-rated movie ever, not accounting for inflation, in worldwide release. It has made $849 million globally, including $47.8 million internatio­nally over the weekend. (Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” remains the Rrated domestic leader, with $370.8 million.)

Despite mixed reviews, “Joker,” a “Taxi Driver”-style spin on a comicbook origin story, already has amassed a box-office total exceeding that of more mainstream superhero movies such as “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Wonder Woman.”

No new releases mustered any competitio­n with the holdovers. The bestperfor­ming newcomer was the horror thriller “Countdown,” which finished fifth and grossed $9 million. “Black and

Blue,” a police thriller starring Naomie Harris, opened with $8.3 million.

Holding especially well was “The Addams Family,” the Halloween-timed animated reboot of the macabre family. It slid just 28% in its second weekend with $11.7 million, good for third place.

Rounding out the top five: “Zombieland: Double Tap,” the Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson sequel, which finished fourth with $11.6 million.

Much of the weekend’s action was in limited or expanding releases for acclaimed Oscar contenders.

Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” a psychologi­cal drama starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as 19th-century lighthouse keepers, made $3 million on just 586 screens.

Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” about a 10-year-old boy growing up in Nazi Germany, expanded into 55 theaters, earning a strong $1 million. In September, the movie won the Toronto Film Festival’s highly predictive audience award, setting it up as a potential Academy Awards favorite.

Its initial expansion suggests it will be a hit with audiences, too.

Less successful was the Bruce Springstee­n concert film “Western Stars” ($560,000 in 537 theaters).

 ?? NIKO TAVERNISE ?? Comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is the Joker.
NIKO TAVERNISE Comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is the Joker.

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