THERE WAS NEVER ANY DOUBT SUICIDE SQUAD WAS GOING TO OWN THE BOX OFFICE THIS WEEKEND DESPITE POOR REVIEWS. NOW THE QUESTION-IS HOW FAR WILL THIS GRAVY TRAIN RUN?
There was never any doubt that DC/Warner Bros. Suicide Squad was going to open huge. After weeks of tracking and speculative monitoring, there was no question it was going to open number one this weekend, laying waste to every record in its path and forcing every other movie on the planet to scramble in it’s colossal wake. So Suicide Squad’s record-breaking success came as absolutely no surprise to anyone anywhere.
Now is when it gets interesting.
Rewind to last March. After years of hype and anticipation, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered Easter weekend across the entire globe. It grossed 170 million in North America and took in just over 424 million worldwide. Despite poor reviews and polarized fan reaction, the suits at Warner Bros basked in the super nova of the film’s dominance. Following its opening weekend success, the fact that BvS would join the billion-dollar club was a foregone conclusion. Fans and pundits alike were talking about it doing Avengers like business with some confident that it would finish with between 1.3 and 1.6 billion dollars when all was said and done. And it would launch DC’s cinematic universe faster than the Flash on Red Bull.
But negativity and bad reviews continued to dog the film and the often-rabid fan defence alienated mainstream audiences. Despite having a two-week window without any significant competition, DC’s new hit plummeted 69% in its second weekend. It fell out of first place in only its third weekend, dethroned by Melissa McCarthy’s R-rated comedy The Boss. When the dust settled, the super powered punch up grossed (a still impressive) 330 million domestically and 872 million worldwide, well short of the billion dollars it was expected to easily achieve. BvS failed to capitalize on its opening, barely doubling it’s initial take (it’s a Hollywood given that any blockbuster worth it’s weight will nearly triple it’s opening weekend numbers) and it tarnished the super hero brand Warner Bros and DC were desperately hoping it would establish.
Warner Bros total investment in BvS was somewhere about 450 million and it was widely believed it had to gross around 800 million worldwide just to break even. So even though BvS was successful, it wasn’t as profitable as you might think. Given that Suicide Squad is burdened by just as much critical baggage, can it escape the same fate as BvS? Or is it doomed to share it?
Suicide Squad didn’t cost Warner Bros as much but was still pricey, with the extensive reshoots they did following BvS’s poor fan reception pushing its price tag as high as 175 million (before promotional costs). Reviews have been just as brutal and fan reaction just as aggressive (before Squad was even released, angry fans had started a petition to have Rotten Tomatoes shut down for the poor score it gave the film). And after Suicide Squad’s record breaking Thursday night and Friday performance, a lot of box office seers predicted it grossing near 150 million on its first weekend, so the 135.1 million it did grab may reflect some box office stumbling.
Still, Suicide Squad has a lot going for it. Whoever was in charge of marketing deserves a raise and while BvS had two weeks before it had to face any competition, Suicide Squad pretty much has most of August to itself (should it really fear Disney’s live action Pete’s Dragon or Seth Rogen’s R-rated animated comedy Sausage Party?) With little on the box office horizon for the next few weeks, Suicide Squad has the kids to itself for the rest of rest of the summer (although Zootopia and Jungle Book had no problem crossing the billion dollar mark while class was in). Still, the question remains, will unforgiving reviews cut its legs like they did BvS?
Time will tell, but while Warner has to be happy with the film’s financial bottom line (so far), it can’t be happy with the underwhelming critical response. After all, this was supposed to be the movie that healed the wounds that Batman Vs. Superman inflicted. Instead it seems to have re-opened many of them.
Believe it or not, there were a few other movies playing this weekend. Jason Bourne took a beating because of Suicide Squad’s release, falling from first to second as a result of a 70% drop in box office (Matt Damon’s latest outing as the super sleeper has a total of 103.1 million in its domestic bank account, but how much more can it earn in the post Suicide Squad summer?).
Star Trek Beyond suffered a similar fate, falling three spots on a weak 10.8 million dollar weekend. The latest Trek has a little over 127 million to its credit after three weeks, meaning it’s going to need huge overseas numbers to break even on a 185 million dollar budget. Surprisingly, Bad Moms held onto to third place with a strong 14 million take in its second weekend (50.8 domestic total) while Secret Life of Pets is proving to have more lives then a cat, maintaining fifth spot with an additional 11.5 million (319.5 million total) in its fifth week.
Speaking of cats without luck though, the new family-comedy Nine Lives opened sixth with a paltry 6.2 million while Warner Bros wonder kid horror Lights Out ranked seventh with another 6 million (and a total of 54.7 million on a microscopic budget of 4.9 million). Nerve slotted into eighth for the second week in a row with 4.8 million (for a total of 26.8 million), Ghostbusters added another 4.6 million (for a total 116.5 million) and Ice Age 5: Collision Course continued it’s trip to the bottom of the pile with 4.3 million (for a total of 53.5 million).
Next up is the live action Pete’s Dragon and the animated raunchfest Sausage Party. But while plenty of eyeballs will be fixed to those titles box office performance, just as many will be keeping a close eye on Suicide Squad’s performance and how well it weathers the onslaught of poor reviews.