The August box-office kicks things off with The Suicide Squad – the James Gunn directed follow up to 2016’s Suicide Squad, which holds the record for biggest August opening ever ($133.7M). Of course, no-one expected the sequel (semi-reboot) to earn anywhere near that. The $26.5M that The Suicide Squad ran away with this weekend lines up with realistic expectations.
Besides the asterisks that are brought up with any pandemic-era film these days, The Suicide Squad makes several departures from the original. Although The Suicide Squad sees the return of Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, and Viola Davis – Will Smith’s Deadshot and Jared Leto’s The Joker are swapped out for Idris Elba as Deadshot and John Cena as Peacemaker. Gunn’s film amps everything up from the original, bumping the rating to an “R” versus the original’s “PG-13”.
A certified crowd-pleaser on Rotten Tomatoes, The Suicide Squad is the second best-reviewed film of the DC Extended Universe (behind Wonder Woman), the second best of Gunn’s career (behind Guardians of the Galaxy), and the best reviewed of this summer’s wide releases. Despite being a massive blockbuster, the original Suicide Squad faced much harsher reception (26% critics, 59% audience).
Disappointment in the 2016 film led to a huge drop-off in the franchise’s only spinoff: Birds of Prey, where Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was also the lead. Debuting in early February 2020, the R-rated film earned just $33M despite also being well-reviewed. This was just before COVID rang any alarms domestically and before the day-and-date HBO Max strategy. The Suicide Squad does not compete with the finances of the original, but it does build on the momentum established by Birds of Prey. That may help Warner Bros renew faith in their comic-based universe, one that has struggled to keep up with the inevitable comparison: Disney’s Marvel.
All that aside, The Suicide Squad earned enough to be the biggest R-rated opener thus far. This performance is not too far behind other Warner Bros/HBO Max releases – both Godzilla vs Kong and Space Jam: A New Legacy had $31M three-day debuts.
The weekend earned an all-in of $65M with support from the sophomore weekends of Jungle Cruise ($15.7M), The Green Knight ($2.6M), and Stillwater ($2.9M).
Black Widow came in fourth place this weekend – but with a to-date total of $174M – she surpasses F9 to become this year’s top domestic grosser. The film most likely to take her crown is fellow Marvel release Spider-Man: No Way Home (12/17). It is possible that Widow’s total gets overtaken sooner with Shang-Chi (9/03), No Time to Die (9/30), Eternals (11/05), and Top Gun: Maverick (11/19) coming to theaters this fall.
Studios are cramming in all they can before the summer ends! Titles to look forward to include Free Guy (8/13), Don’t Breathe 2 (8/13), Respect (8/13), PAW Patrol: The Movie (8/20), The Protégé (8/20), Reminiscence (8/20 – HBO Max), and Candyman (8/27). That’s two back-to-back weekends of three-piece meals before the highly anticipated horror film hits the big screen.