Deadline updates the lackluster result of Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad’s final box office earnings on Sunday morning. The film earned $26.5M this past weekend and conversations have been surrounding the reason as to why the result landed lower than expected. Deadline discusses that this well-intended effort by the studio to improve a damaged franchise may have gone wrong not just by the variant and the simultaneous streaming on HBO Max, but also by the branding.
Bringing in the gifted James Gunn to shift the direction of the DC Cinematic Universe was a genius decision, but he alone couldn’t save The Suicide Squad. Low results at the box office nowadays tend to boil down to the brand and whether people find it worth their time to watch. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, despite its global box office success of $746.8M and biggest domestic August debut of all-time at $133.6M, garnered negative attention and was initially regarded as a bad movie. Warner Bros. attempting to market a sequel to a movie with such a reputation was already a challenge in itself.
And despite the positive reviews for Gunn’s Suicide Squad, most audiences are watching this R-rated film at home on HBO Max where it’s free and they don’t have to deal with the hassle of going to the theater. Paired alongside the accessibility of streaming services and piracy, these options slow the film’s climb at the box office, a statistic proven time and again during the pandemic.
Deadline also reports that blaming the delta variant exclusively for the result of The Suicide Squad at the box office may not be entirely fruitful. Theaters are still open, more people are fully vaccinated, and the nation didn’t close down this weekend. The gap between the 2021 box office ($1.8 billion) for the period of Jan.1-Aug.8 and the same frame in 2020 continues to close, now -6%. Many are still restraining from travel, but there’s still a part of the population who is vaccinated and wants to continue living a normal life. Even last week amongst the headlines about the surging delta variant, Jungle Cruise beat its $25M projections with a $35M opening. So, it seems, it all comes down to branding.
But a studio can’t claim the best R-rated opening during the pandemic and point a finger at COVID at the same time. Suicide Squad’s opening is ahead of HBO Max/Warner Bros’ previous R-rated titles, like New Line’s Mortal Kombat ($23.3M) and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ($24.1M). For weeks, tracking for The Suicide Squad looked like Birds of Prey, even before the latest variant spikes in NY and LA, so that’s no surprise in regards to Suicide Squad’s opening weekend.
Deadline even reports that Warner Bros. and Disney spent essentially the same amount of money in U.S. TV promotions on Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise, approximately $18M each. So is the final opening box office result for a specific movie in a franchise all because of one reason? Projections and results don’t seem to point in that direction after the latest trends.