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LOS ANGELES -- "Joker" is getting the first laugh on its debut weekend, scoring an October box-office record with US$13.3 million earned in Thursday night showings.

Warner Bros. released the figures Friday morning. "Joker" unseated "Venom," which also holds the record for best October opening with $80.3 million, according to Comscore.

The strong start comes after weeks of discussion about the R-rated film and whether it will inspire some to commit violence. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as the man who becomes Batman's classic nemesis in the origin story film.

Some victims of the Aurora, Colorado, theatre massacre that occurred during a 2012 "Dark Knight Rises" showing have called on Warner Bros. to support gun control initiatives, which the studio says it already does.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a theatre in Huntington Beach, California, cancelled most of its Thursday screenings after police said they received a threat. No details about the nature of the threat were released.

Both Phoenix and director Todd Phillips have defended the film, with the actor saying he trusts audiences to know the difference between right and wrong.