Warner Bros' comic book film Joker has become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.
Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was able to secure the second spot this weekend after taking in $18.5 million.
With such a close race to the top, the order could switch when final figures are released Monday.
With a global total of $849 million, "Joker" has passed "Wonder Woman" as the fourth-highest grossing DC film ever, and will pass "Batman v Superman" this week to take third behind only "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises".
"Joker" made a rare return to the top spot in North American theaters, outdrawing three new releases that struggled to gain traction in a sluggish stretch for movies. Just in time for Halloween, the horror thriller, stars Peter Facinelli, Tichina Arnold, Elizabeth Lail, and Anne Winter. STX's Countdown was able to scare up $9 million and took the fifth position.
Meanwhile, "Black and Blue" is launching with about $8.2 million from 2,062 locations, which could land it the No. 5 slot.
Much of the weekend's action was in limited or expanding releases for acclaimed Oscar contenders.
The long-delayed historical drama premiered at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival but was shelved and sold after original distributor the Weinstein Co. shuttered.
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At number 8, A24's "The Lighthouse" added 578 locations and $3.1 million in its second weekend (a 621% increase) for a cumulative $3.7 million. Its initial expansion suggests it will be a hit with audiences, too. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, "The Current War" depicts a tense battle between electricity giants Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) - who teams up with Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Hoult) - as the men determine whose electrical system will power the modern world.
Less successful was the Bruce Springsteen concert film "Western Stars" ($560,000 in 537 theatres).
Joker was able to take its third number one turn at the box office this weekend, its fourth weekend in theaters.
In ninth place, 101 Studios' "The Current War: Director's Cut" opened in 1,022 locations with $2.7 million. Where available, the latest worldwide numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
Both "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" and "Joker" are expected to cede the top spot this coming weekend to Paramount's "Terminator: Dark Fate", which is now estimated for a $40 million opening weekend.
"The Addams Family", $11.7 million.
"Black and Blue" follows a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer by corrupt cops on her body cam.