Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, has exceeded expectations by raking in US$234 million ($370m) in box office sales globally.

The R-rated film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, made an impressive global sales start where the multi-million dollar figure is expected to grow over the next month.

Despite the heightened security at screenings across the US, the dark supervillain movie earned US$93.5m domestically and US$140.5m in more than 70 other international markets, Hollywood Reporter has revealed.

Joker was played by Joaquin Phoenix. Photo / AP
Joker was played by Joaquin Phoenix. Photo / AP

Joker, which is Warner Bros' biggest debut in two years, has sparked headlines since its release last week. The movie has drawn heavy criticism for its depiction of violence, in the wake of 2012 shootings in Colorado at a screening of another Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. This has led some US cities to deploy uniform and undercover police to Joker screenings.

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Warner Bros released a statement saying that Joker does not intend to "hold this character up as a hero", and Phillips has been vocal in defence of his film.

Joker movie ticket buyers in the US were not allowed to bring any face paint, masks or toy weapons as well as anyone under the age of 17 had to be accompanied by an adult.

While film critics from the New York Times have said Phillips' film was the "most disappointing movie of the year", Joker has also been respected as "astonishing" and a "knockout" by Empire and Variety.