“The Suicide Squad” will storm the domestic box office, with the R-rated superhero adventure on track to generate more than $30 million in its opening weekend.
As the only new movie to debut nationwide, “The Suicide Squad” won’t have much competition to top the charts in North America. Like the entire Warner Bros. 2021 film slate, “The Suicide Squad” is premiering simultaneously on HBO Max.
Some box office experts suggest that inaugural ticket sales above $30 million is a modest estimate and predict that revenues could surpass $40 million in its first three days of release. That isn’t a bad start for pandemic times, but it’s a soft debut for a film with a $180 million production budget. However, the studio’s parent company WarnerMedia isn’t just relying on box office ticket sales. It’s also hoping “The Suicide Squad” will drive subscribers to HBO Max. The company hasn’t reported any specific metrics when it comes to streaming sign-ups, so it’s unclear if the latest Warner Bros. offerings have actually led to new paying customers.
Already, “The Suicide Squad” touched down last weekend in several international markets, where the film generated $7 million from five territories. The biggest haul came from the U.K. with $4.7 million in sales.
“The Suicide Squad” is not to be confused with the 2017 movie “Suicide Squad,” which was directed by David Ayer and featured Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Jared Leto, as well as an article-less title. The Warner Bros. film was derided by critics, but nevertheless “Suicide Squad” generated a huge $746 million at the global box office.
The latest take on the band of baddies with nothing to lose was directed by James Gunn, the filmmaker behind Marvel’s wildly popular “Guardians of the Galaxy” series. He reassembled the Squad with one Harley Quinn (Robbie) and her lesser-known compadres, including Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Rich Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone).
“The Suicide Squad” centers on the task force of convicts who are sent to destroy a Nazi-era lab. It has been surprisingly well received for a non-Marvel comic book adaptation, with a Rotten Tomatoes average of 96%. (Ayer’s version had a rough 26% average on Rotten Tomatoes). Despite the vastly different receptions, Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” won’t come close to reaching the ticket sales amassed by Ayer’s “Suicide Squad,” which premiered to $133 million in the U.S. and Canada. Revenues for “The Suicide Squad” will likely be more in line with 2020’s “Suicide Squad” spinoff “Birds of Prey” starring Robbie as the vexing antihero. That film opened, which prior to the pandemic and fell short of expectations, generating $33 million in its debut and went on to make $84 million in North America and $201 million worldwide.
In limited release, IFC is opening “John and the Hole,” a coming-of-age psychological thriller that premiered to mixed reviews at Sundance Film Festival. Also this weekend, Amazon is releasing “Annette,” an over-the-top rock opera starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.
Overall, moviegoing has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels and still faces headwinds given the highly contagious Delta variant. Unless the public health crisis and people begin to avoid indoor activities, like going to the movies, Hollywood has plans to release numerous blockbuster hopefuls in the fall and winter, including “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (Sept. 24), the James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” (Oct. 8), Marvel’s “Eternals” (Nov. 5), Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” (Nov. 24) and “Matrix 4” (Dec. 22).