Regular readers may know that I used to keep track of movies that opened so big and then dropped so far on weekend 2 to earn at most $100 million less than weekend one. These films (all the Avengers films, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, part II, Iron Man 3, Captain America’s Civil War, Incredibles 2, The Rise of Skywalker, and Jurassic World) would be relative successes. If you don’t have an opening of at least $100 million, you won’t be able to join the $100 million losers’ club.
Suicide Squad is now the first and most likely the only member in a weird new “club” at the box office. It’s also the first sequel to open with $100 million less than its predecessor. David Ayer’s first Substance Squad was released with $133million despite poor reviews. Margot Robbie/Will Smith flick featured Harley Quinn’s and Joker’s first DC Films roles, as well as a highly anticipated cameo from Ben Affleck in Batman.
Even with the poor reviews and much-publicized studio tinkering after Batman v, Superman was poorly received and Deadpool’s breakout success story, audiences came in record numbers. The domestic box office took the film down 68%, but it managed $325 million in weekend 2. It’s due to its star-studded cast, Will Smith factor, and its position as the final big summer movie. Suicide Squad was released five years later. With few of these elements remaining, The Suicide Squad launched with $26.2million, $107.482 million less than its predecessor.
Although the film was never a commercial success, it had a lot of commercial appeal (no Will Smith or Batman, no Joker), an R-rating, and general apathy about the first Suicide Squad. This particular benchmark is partially due to the times. Except we are still having trouble with Covid to the extent that Jurassic World, Dominion, opens next June with $48m compared with the $148m launches of Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom, I don’t think there will be another example of this happening. The Suicide Squad gets its place in trivia books for good or ill.
We might have seen a $60m opening, $140m domestic cume, and a $366m global finish if no HBO Max was available. It would mean that Suicide Squad would have a percentage drop of $133 million/$325million/$745million, which is on par with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows (133 million/$325million/$745million), and The Secret Life of Pets (245 million). Even if that were to happen, I wouldn’t be worried about spending $185m on an R-rated sequel of a $175m PG-13 Will Smith movie. Instead, I’d be worrying about whether it was wise to spend $185m on 0.0 Will Smith. An additional go with SSUicide Squad would have been, at minimum, 1/3 less.
With all the factors taken into account, The Suicide Squad saw the most significant drop (in raw grosses) for a sequel’s first weekend relative to its predecessor. The most notable declines in such numbers were caused by disinterest and the “next film” opening over a more extended weekend than its predecessor’s Fri-Sun debut. Alice Through the Looking Glass made $26.8 Million during the Fri-Sun section of a Memorial Day weekend release. That compares with Alice In Wonderland, which earned $116 million for a nonsequel in 2010. Transformers: Age of Extinction earned $100 million in 2014, while The Last Knight made $44.6 million for the Fri-Sun section of a $68 Million Wed-Sun premiere.
Think of the following “big” Fri Sun-Sun weekend opening weekends: Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomFollow these steps to earn ($148 Million)Jurassic World($208 million). ThinkFree of the Furious($99 Million) FollowingFurious 7($147 Million). Illumination’sThe Secret Life of Pets 2. The film opened with $48million or $56million less than its predecessor ($104 million debuts is still a record) DreamWorksShrek Forever after the film was released with only $70 million in 2010, compared to Shrek the Third, which had a $122 million debut (a record for animation at the moment). Joss Whedon did indeed make it. Justice LeagueZack Snyder’s debut at $166 million was less than Snyder’s $73 million openings.Batman v Superman($166 Million).
Wonder Woman 1985 is my closest analogy. The sequel to the superhero movie is a Covid casualty. Or, perhaps, a sacrificial lamb in the streaming wars. It grossed $16.4 million at Christmas. Most theaters were closed, and America was dealing with a worse Covid scenario. It was $86million more minor than the $103million debut of Wonder Woman. However, I am sure that Wonder Woman 1985would have been an $850 to $650 million-grossing worldwide hit had it not been for Covid.
The Suicide Squad over the weekend was not my favorite film. It was also a long-shot commercial, even in better times. It was a movie that appeared predicated upon mistaking “Film Twitter” conversation for general audience interest. It would only be a “Dammit! I hate being right!” box office bomb in a typical Summer. Unfortunately, it is now being used as ammunition to declare the end of movie theaters and the beginning of a new slate of good movies ( Venom: Let There be Carnage, No Time To Die, etc.). It should not be delayed further.
The film is superior in quality but not as good as X-Men – Dark Phoenix or Terminator – Dark Fate. There were two cases in which unrequested sequels (regular audiences weren’t interested in another “Dark Phoenix,” and no one wanted another Terminator) were spent $185-$200 million to extend a franchise to whom audiences had already said “No.” Hollywood, which is struggling to justify its theatrical relevance and streaming, can barely afford such unforced errors as Hollywood before Covid. This is almost the equivalent of sabotage.
Suicide Squad was budgeted and green-lit before Covid. To judge the viability and overall viability, movie theaters in a summer anchored Black Widow (always B-level MCU flick), Space Jam: A New Legacy, and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins remains an enigma. Nevertheless, The Suicide Squad won’t do any actual harm to DC Films.
First, James Gunn produced a perfect movie that continues their relative post-Justice Leaguewinning streak. If the film had been released at a better time, I think that the unapologetically optimistic Wonder Woman 1994 would have garnered better reviews. The second is whether or not anyone saw The Suicide Squad has a 0.0004% impact on whether or not we all go to Aquaman, The Lost Kingdom, or The Batman. DC Films is the only exception to this rule. “Audiences didn’t want another Suicide Squad movie.” This is something we should have known.