Movie theatergoing has made a comeback over the last few months, thanks to the high number of vaccinations (that still isn’t high enough), but a number of would-be blockbusters have underperformed, or worse. Perhaps the biggest bomb happened this weekend. The Suicide Squad, DC’s $185-million quasi-sequel to the critically and director-derided but hugely profitable 2016 original, stumbled into theaters, raking in only $26.5 million. But it’s not like no one watched it. Surely one reason it made so little dough in brick-and-mortars is because it’s available for free on a hugely popular streamer. And top brass are claiming it had a huge debut, at least online.
The news is buried in a box office piece by The Hollywood Reporter about the film’s dismal numbers. According to HBO Max chief Andy Forssell, the superhero villain pic wound up being the “second most viewed film over an opening weekend on HBO Max since we began day-and-date releases with theaters.”
So what’s number one? It’s believed to be Mortal Kombat, which was released in late April and which made $41.4 million in theaters, $23.3 million of which was on its opening weekend. In other words, both films opened about the same, although Kombat was considerably less expensive to make.
That also means The Suicide Squad allegedly out-performed the likes of Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and Space Jam, at least in terms of HBO Max streams.
Mind you, this is HBO Max claiming this. They didn’t offer any numbers, and there’s no way of independently verifying their allegations. It’s the same as when Netflix claims such-and-such a movie was a monster hit. But if it’s legit, then a lot of people watched Margot Robbie perform a pretty impressive stunt herself, and watched [SPOILER] unexpectedly eat it in the hilariously grisly first 10 minutes. So they the movie they’re calling a bomb might not be quite dead after all.
Another reason for The Suicide Squad’s thin performance in actual movie theaters: a little thing called the pandemic, which has recently ramped back up thanks to a little thing called the Delta variant. If it’s true that The Suicide Squad outperformed even the second Wonder Woman, then it appears people simply felt safer clicking a couple buttons at home than shlepping out for an expensive night at the movies filled with people who might not be taking a once-in-a-century public health crisis seriously.