Weekend Box Office: ‘Suicide Squad ‘ Lively In Debut, Questionable in the Long Run

Despite a tidal wave of critical dismissal, it was a big weekend for Warner’s Suicide Squad as the DC Comics made a successful leap from printed page to the big screen worldwide. In North America, the antihero action flick set a record for biggest opening for the month of August, earning six times as much as its closest competition. Thanks to the said opening, the top ten shot up 26% over last weekend’s totals and a whopping 94% over the top ten one year ago this week.

Beginning its run this past Thursday night at six pm, Squad gunned down a massive $135 million from 4,255 theaters. Squad had no issue speeding past Guardians of the Galaxy’s $94 million debut set two years ago this weekend. The PG-13 feature also managed beat the $132 million opening for a similar antihero-themed blockbuster from earlier this year: Fox’s R-rated hit Deadpool. As with every other event film released over the past few years, IMAX and 3D venues were a big help with the grosses.

While the suits at Warners are undoubtedly ecstatic over the opening for Suicide Squad, the road ahead for the feature is another matter. Yes, it opened bigger than Guardians and Deadpool, but will it have what it takes to earn as much as either of those features?

It’s doubtful. To begin with, both Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool were well received by critics. Suicide Squad got torn a new one by them. In fact, its Rotten Tomatoes rating is lower than fellow DC epic Batman V Superman, a film many consider to be one of the worst comic book flicks ever made. Granted, what the scribes have to say about a comic book film matters little to the fanboys and girls who anticipate these films with bated breath. But for those outside the comic book circles who actually do listen to the critics before buying a ticket, an overwhelming chorus of bad notices certainly can impact a film’s box office longevity. After all, look how fast Batman V Superman faded last spring.

And while the comic book movie devout show up en masse on opening weekend no matter what, their feedback post-viewing also makes an impact on long-term sales. Since Friday, the daily business on Suicide Squad has dropped 60%. Saturday slowed by 40% while Sunday is estimated to be 20%. That’s not quite as bad as the 70% erosion suffered by Batman V Superman back in March, but it is far steeper than the 35% drop in daily opening weekend business for Guardians or the 10% Deadpool encountered.

Should Suicide Squad follow a similar box office path that Batman V Superman did a few months ago, it should wind down its run somewhere near $310 million. An impressive box office gross, no two ways around it. But when one factors in production and marketing costs –roughly $300 million for Suicide Squad-, that number suddenly doesn’t look all that great. Foreign markets will help with the bottom line, but they can only do so much. Especially when the film is not going to play the second-biggest market in the world: China. They took a pass on the movie, which will cost Warner roughly $75-100 million in ticket sales.

The arrival of Suicide Squad delivered a sucker punch to last week’s champ, Jason Bourne. The fifth chapter of the successful Universal franchise lost a big 62% of its audience to Harley Quinn and Deadshot. Currently playing on 4,039 screens, Jason Bourne earned an estimated $22.7 million. After ten days, Bourne has snagged $103.4 million stateside and an additional $92 million from foreign markets. Depending on how fast JB cools down domestically over the next few weeks, it could reach the $145-150 million mark.

The number three and four films in the country acted as a safe haven from the testosterone-heavy likes of The Joker and Bourne. In third place was STX’s comedy Bad Moms, which earned an estimated $14.2 million from 3,215 screens. Off only 40%, the ten-day total for Bad Moms stands at $51 million. A final tally near $80 million is a possibility.

Fourth place belonged to Universal’s animated blockbuster The Secret Life of Pets, with $11.5 million in estimated sales from 3,417 screens. The new domestic total for Pets is $319.5 million. With no competition on the horizon for the remainder of the summer, the family hit should come close to finishing its domestic run with a great $350 million. The film crossed the half billion-dollar mark this weekend thanks to $182 million contributed from international markets.

Continuing its warp speed fade into box office oblivion this weekend was Paramount’s Star Trek Beyond with a fifth place finish worth $10.2 million from 3,263 theaters. Off 59%, the latest adventure of the Starship Enterprise has earned $128 million so far and is looking to beam out of theaters with roughly $145 million, close to $80 million less than its predecessor Into Darkness. Foreign totals for Kirk and company stand at $66.5 million.

Outside the top five:

  1.  Nine Lives (EuroCorp) $6.5 million (NEW)
  1.  Lights Out (Warner) $6 million (-44%); $55 million
  1.  Nerve (Lionsgate) $4.9 million (-48%); $26.8 million
  1.  Ghostbusters (2016) $4.8 million (-53%); $116 million
  1.  Ice Age: Collision Course (Fox) $4.3 million (-61%); $53.5 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Florence Foster Jenkins, Sausage Party and the remake of Pete’s Dragon. Even with a drop of 60-70%, Suicide Squad should be able to remain in the number one position.





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