The racing drama was successful with male audiences, while Sony's action-comedy "Charlie's Angels" had an unimpressive opening and "Joker" became the first R-rated movie to gross $1 billion.
"Joker" narrowly bested "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" to regain the No 1 spot at the weekend box office in its fourth week of release.
The film starring Angelina Jolie in the title role took in $36.9 million, but that was well shy of projections that it would earn $45 million and a sharp drop-off from the first film's $69.4 million launch in 2014.
Amid fears that the film might inspire violence, some theatres provided extra security for the opening night.
A police spokeswoman says that while there have been no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, "the department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when (the film) opens" next week.
The much-hyped new Joaquin Phoenix film, billed as a "character study" of Batman's nemesis, has been hailed as an Oscar contender but has raised concerns that its depiction of mental illness and violence could prove incendiary.
Todd Phillips' dark comic book film "Joker" has won the Golden Lion Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.
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