'The Suicide Squad' Has The 2nd Most-Viewed HBO Max Opening Weekend, As The Film Struggles At The Box Office

There’s a lot of uncertainty (again) as we enter the end of the summer movie season in theaters. With COVID cases rising and renewed mask mandates in some locations, some were worried this might lead to people taking a break from going out to the cinemas to see the next big films. Well, if the opening weekend box office of “The Suicide Squad” is any indication, those fears might be coming true.

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According to early estimates, “The Suicide Squad” earned a paltry $26.5 million in its opening three days of release in North America. When you add in the rest of the world (where the film debuted in some locations last week), the new worldwide total for the film sits at $72.2 million. Obviously, we can’t compare it to the opening of David Ayer’sSuicide Squad” in 2016 (that film debuted with $133 million but is PG-13 and pre-COVID), but even by reduced standards, folks are a bit concerned about what the small opening for James Gunn’s film means for the upcoming slate of films that are still on the schedule for the remainder of 2021.

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Of course, it’s not fair to just chalk up James Gunn’s film as a failure. In fact, when you look at the avalanche of positive reviews and the massive amount of fan interest, many were thinking “The Suicide Squad” could defy the analysts and actually do incredibly well at the box office. But when you look at the COVID situation, combined with the fact that Warner Bros. released the film on HBO Max at the same time, that’s a recipe for a disappointing box office weekend.

In fact, instead of worrying about the small box office, HBO Max chief Andy Forssell talked about how much of a success “The Suicide Squad” has already been on the streaming platform (where it’s offered as a free title when you’re a subscriber).

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“As the country faces new challenges due to the COVID variant, we’re happy to continue to offer fans the option of viewing movies in their homes,” Forssell said (via THR). “Many chose to do just that as ‘Suicide Squad’ emerged as the second most-viewed film over an opening weekend on HBO Max since we began day-and-date releases with theaters.”

In its report, THR said the number one spot in most-viewed release in its opening weekend likely belongs to “Mortal Kombat,” which was released in the spring. Interestingly, though “Mortal Kombat” didn’t have nearly the positive reviews as “The Suicide Squad,” both are R-rated genre films with strong fan interest. And for comparison’s sake, “Mortal Kombat” opened to $23 million in its first domestic weekend back in March, which is only $3 million behind “The Suicide Squad.” But hopefully, for WB, Gunn’s film doesn’t match the long-term performance of “Mortal Kombat,” which has only earned a total of $42 million at the domestic box office.

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All this to say, WB probably isn’t happy with the performance of “The Suicide Squad.” Even with the COVID rise and the HBO Max release, the studio was likely hoping for the R-rated superhero film to have incredible buzz and do respectably well at cinemas. This isn’t the way the studio wanted to end its summer release slate, and other studios are probably taking notice. You have to imagine Disney is curious how the COVID situation might affect its “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which is hitting during the first weekend of September. We shall see.