Despite scathing reviews– 26% on Rotten Tomatoes– Warner Brothers’ ‘Suicide Squad’ massacred the box office as anticipated, taking in a record-breaking $135 million. Just like ‘Batman V Superman’ this spring, it didn’t matter what critics thought. This was another EVENT that true comic fans had to witness firsthand and most of them did so this weekend, as the movie eclipsed ‘Guardians of the Galaxy”s $94.3M bow in 2014, to become the top-opening August movie of all time and interestingly enough, the number one opening of Will Smith’s career.
‘Suicide Squad‘ fell a little short of expectation. It was, as recently as Saturday, expected to clear $145+M. But even so, it’s still a massive opening.
The big difference between ‘BvS’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ however, is that when moviegoers turned out for the former, they quickly realized they sided with the critics. And while ‘Suicide Squad’ disappointed many, a large percentage actually liked or even LOVED it. It currently ranks at a B+ CineScore, which is considered only “better than average,” but it’s scoring much higher with those under 25. Those over that age aren’t reacting as well and dragged the average down.
It’s connecting with enough fans and scoring “off the charts” on social media with its Facebook page averaging over 60,000 likes a day and over 600M positive reactions across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube that seems to be helping the film. So unlike ‘BvS’, ‘Suicide Squad’ may have enough positive buzz to give it better “legs” over the coming weeks. But we’ll have to wait and see there.
One of the biggest flaws with the movie, as cited by detractors, is that it feels disjointed and certain scenes don’t mesh well with others. You can blame ‘BvS’ for that.
After a rather dark first trailer– which reportedly would have more closely reflected director David Ayer’s original vision– later clips embraced the wackier side of things, inserting classic rock tunes like ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and showcasing breakout star Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, undoubtedly the high-point of the film.
The version of ‘Suicide Squad’ playing in theaters now is the THIRD cut of the movie. Ayer originally crafted a darker more somber version. But after viewers disliked the bleak tone of ‘Batman V Superman’, Warner Brothers ordered reshoots, which reportedly cost an additional $22 million, and at the time were rumored to be to make the film lighter– something Ayer flatly denied. Then, WB had their own editors piece together an alternate cut, which involved, among other things, swapping out the original score for the classic rock soundtrack and removing a lot of Jared Leto‘s scenes. THEN, WB tested both cuts of the film and tasked Ayer with recutting the movie to incorporate the most favorable elements from both. (Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure at least one of the earlier cuts will make it to DVD/Blu-Ray… hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ayer went back to the editing room and crafted a FOURTH “director’s cut.”)
So if it felt disjointed… well it is. It’s basically a Frankenstein cut stitched together from what are essentially two different movies. Do the lovers of the film care? Apparently not. But are their voices enough to sway those sitting on the fence over this movie? Once again, next week may tell the tale.
One thing that may undermine this film, unfortunately, is that it will not be released in the second-largest film market in the world, China. Every western movie released in that country has to be edited down to make it family friendly, but in this case, there may not be enough movie left to screen once all the darkness and violence is eliminated.
- Suicide Squad (Warner Brothers) – $135M
- Jason Bourne (Universal) – $22.7M
- Bad Moms (STX Entertainment) – $14.2M
- The Secret Life Of Pets (Universal) – $11.56M
- Star Trek Beyond (Paramount) – $10.2M
The rest of the Top Five were holdovers. The only other major new film to open was ‘Nine Lives’– which you’ll notice isn’t listed– the film in which Kevin Spacey plays a man who hates cats who gets turned into one. If you think ‘Suicide Squad”s 26% on Rotten Tomatoes is bad, ‘Nine Lives’ is currently rocking an impressively awful 5%! How the hell did this even get made? Dammit, man, you’re President Underwood! What are you doing in this pile of kitty litter? ‘Nine Lives’ failed to even crack the Top Five, taking in $6.5M for a sixth place finish.
Next week, ‘Suicide Squad’ may face stiff competition from ‘Pete’s Dragon’ which looks amazing in the trailers, but with many kids back in school and a glut of family movies this summer, this may be arriving too late to do the business it may well deserve. Also opening is the Meryl Streep-starring ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’, which… well, it obviously won’t be cutting into that ‘Suicide Squad’ audience. (Maybe ‘Euthanasia Squad’? Too far?) And Seth Rogen’s raunchy animated flick ‘Sausage Party’ is arriving, but the trailers up til now, and even a presence at ComiCon, don’t seem to have sparked much interest. But we’ll see.
Check back to see if Will Smith and the gang will reign supreme for a second week!