Joker and Maleficent Tussle for Box Office Lead

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(Joker and Maleficent)

Studio estimates show “Joker” with a slight edge over “Maleficent” in ticket sales this weekend, but the race is too close to call for now

A pair of holdovers had a photo finish this weekend as “Joker” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” jockeyed for first place at the box office.

Estimates, which sometimes change on Monday when final counts are in, give “Joker” a slight edge: The Warner Bros. villain tale is estimated to make about $18.9 million in domestic sales, while Disney’s fantasy sequel “Maleficent” is pegged at around $18.5 million.

The fact that the two movies are in such close competition is a testament to the success of “Joker,” which has performed well since it opened Oct. 4. According to Disney, “Maleficent,” which opened last weekend to about $9 million below already modest prerelease projections, made an additional $64.3 million overseas Friday through Sunday.  Warner Bros. said that “Joker” picked up roughly $47.8 million in international sales during that period.

Both movies re-imagine well-known villains. “Maleficent,” the follow-up to Disney’s 2014 hit “Maleficent,” casts Angelina Jolie as the evil fairy from “Sleeping Beauty.” “Joker” builds a bleak origin story of the titular DC Comics villain, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Though the movie caused widespread debate when it was released, with some questioning whether it painted a sympathetic portrait of a killer and others viewing that criticism as unjustified, it has had robust ticket sales.

Caption for Joaquin Phoenix 

Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” which sold an estimated $18.9 million in domestic tickets this weekend.  Warner Bros

Caption for Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.”  Estimated weekend ticket sales for the movie came in at around $18.5 million.  Disney Enterprises

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