Suicide Squad – Hot Now, Dead Later
By John Hamann
August 7, 2016
Suicide Squad continues the bizarre summer of 2016, as the WB/DC combo lights up the box office despite one of the largest critical drubbings in a summer filled with disappointments.
Yes, it’s that weekend. Suicide Squad - one of the most anticipated movies of the year hits screens this weekend, and according to a heavy majority of critics, none of us should go. They warned us about Batman v Superman as well – only four months ago – and North America didn’t listen over that opening frame, either, at least not at the beginning.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice launched to a massive $166 million, the eighth biggest opening of all time, and Warner Bros. must have been ecstatic. Problem is, at the domestic box office, Batman v Superman failed to even double its opening weekend, as it topped out domestically at $330 million. The only other big opener to meet that fate was Fifty Shades of Grey, another critically-derided, 25% fresh film that opened to $85 million and topped out at $166.2 million. More than likely, the same fate will befall Suicide Squad, which means it won’t earn $300 million at the domestic box office despite opening to a massive $135.1 million.
After the review-bomb went off on Tuesday, Warner Bros. upped the marketing, and Suicide Squad got to work for real on Thursday with its preview. Numbers were very strong, with the preview coming in at $20.5 million (my suspicious mind thinks it was below $20 million, but who really knows). That’s well below the $27.7 million that Batman v Superman earned in its preview (-26%). That’s also below Captain America: Civil War ($25 million Thursday), but did beat both The Avengers ($18.7 million) and Jurassic World ($18.5 million). Advance ticket sales are both a win and a loss for the movie business. Too many people are buying before they understand if the product is any good or not.
The combined Thursday and Friday number came in at a big $65.1 million, off 20% from Batman v Superman’s $81.6 million. The "true Friday" (Friday gross less Thursday preview amount) came in at $44.6 million, moving closer to Batman v Superman’s "true" Friday of $54.3 million (-18%). Suicide Squad enjoyed the 18th biggest opening day, but was $2 million behind The Dark Knight and more than $10 million behind The Dark Knight Rises. On the other hand, for a film that has a bunch of characters that no one has seen on film before, it did very well, almost matching The Hunger Games’ opening day of $67.2 million. Warner Bros. did a great job of keeping the buzz up through TWO Comic-Cons, but again, box office returns here are support for the build up to the film, not the film itself. We will see how people really feel about Suicide Squad next weekend.
The Saturday number came in at $38.8 million, off 41% against the combined Thursday/Friday, but more concerning is that it was off 14% compared to the real Friday number at $44.6 million. The Sunday was estimated at $31 million, so the weekend is estimated at $135.1 million. That gives Suicide Squad the 19th biggest opening ever, maybe a little closer to Deadpool’s $132 million debut than Warner Bros. would have liked. This result also shows that once advance tickets were used up, Suicide Squad was already softening after the first half of the weekend, and a betting man says the estimate is high and will come down when actuals are released on Monday.