Joker is re-releasing in theaters this Friday after earning 11 Oscar nominations. The divisive origin story announced itself as a viable awards contender when it surprisingly won the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, and it continued to rack up the accolades from there. In addition to making multiple “best of the year” lists (including the American Film Institute’s), Joker took home two Golden Globes earlier this month, winning Best Original Score and Best Actor – Drama. Despite the numerous controversies the film generated, awards voters couldn’t resist it.
Even Joker’s most ardent supporters were probably shocked to see it lead all eligible films with 11 nominations at the 2020 Oscars (most all-time for a comic book adaptation), including Best Picture and Best Director. Star Joaquin Phoenix is even the betting favorite to win Best Actor, ahead of tough competition like Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). And though the film is available on home media, Warner Bros. is celebrating Joker’s success on the awards circuit with a theatrical re-release.
Per ComingSoon, Joker will play in over 750 locations nationwide beginning this Friday, January 17. WB’s president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein discussed the thought process behind the re-release:
“With the continued interest in Joker as a result of its recognition during this exciting awards season, we wanted to give audiences the chance to see the film on the big screen, whether for the first time or again.”
Joker proved to be a massive draw during its initial run, breaking October box office records en route to earning $1 billion worldwide. It’s the first R-rated film in history to gross that much (despite not playing in China), speaking to how strongly the movie’s story resonated with viewers. As such, there’s good reason to believe this re-release will be a fruitful one. Joker obviously isn’t going to post blockbuster numbers this weekend (with the film on Digital and Blu-ray), but the film’s passionate fans may be inclined to make the trip to the theater. Joker is certainly a film worth seeing at the multiplex to full appreciate its acclaimed technical aspects, such as Lawrence Sher’s Oscar-nominated cinematography. For those who missed it the first time around, this could be more enticing than watching Joker at home.
What this re-release probably won’t do, however, is improve Joker’s odds of winning Best Picture. That appears to be a two-film race between 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which earned the top prizes (in Drama and Musical or Comedy, respectively) at the Golden Globes. For Joker to pull ahead in the race, it’ll need to pull off an upset at the PGA Awards, which is unlikely. The PGA uses a preferential balloting system for its Best Picture (like the Oscars), and Joker is frankly too polarizing a film to thrive in that format. Being divisive means there’s enough love to score a nomination, but winning the whole thing is another story.
More: Why Oscars Love The Joker (But Not Comic Book Movies)