Just like its 2016 predecessor, Warner Bros.’ semi-reboot The Suicide Squad debuted at No. 1 at the box office – albeit with a much lower opening weekend gross.
The James Gunn-directed follow-up took in an estimated $26.5M from 4,002 screens in its opening frame, putting it at the lower end of projections. It was still good enough to rank as the highest opening for an R-rated film during the pandemic, beating previous record-holder The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ($24.1M). The per-screen average was $6,622.
R-rated record or not, that’s a massive comedown from the previous Suicide Squad iteration, which opened with a sizzling $133.7M in Aug. 2016. The limitations of the pandemic-era theatrical marketplace make that an unfair comparison, however, particularly with the surging Delta variant dampening enthusiasm just as audiences were beginning to show up in force at theaters for releases like A Quiet Place Part II, F9 and Black Widow.
On the positive side, this Suicide Squad has been much better received by critics and audiences than its predecessor. The film boasts a solid 92% on Rotten Tomatoes among the former and 86% among the latter, which should help contribute to positive word-of-mouth and, potentially, stronger legs than the 2016 film, which plummeted 67% in its second weekend of release and ultimately landed at $325.1M domestically and $746.85M global off a reported $175M budget. Those are blockbuster numbers to be sure, though it’s generally believed they could have been considerably higher had the film been more beloved by fans, many of whom were disappointed by the film’s muddled tone (it underwent extensive reshoots after the studio opted to inject a more lighthearted tone that clashed with director David Ayer’s darker-hued vision).
Though fans are clearly happier with Gunn’s filmed version of the Suicide Squad comic, the film’s hybrid release on HBO Max could also hinder its long-term theatrical grosses, particularly with the Delta variant becoming an increasing concern among the general public. There’s also the fact that the first movie’s A-list starpower is somewhat diminished this time around, with Will Smith and Jared Leto both sitting this one out – absences that may potentially be hindering appeal among more casual moviegoers.
The first Suicide Squad’s PG-13 rating was also an advantage in that it made the film available to a wider pool of moviegoers, whereas the R-rated 2021 version effectively shut out younger teens who might otherwise have turned out to see Harley Quinn and company in action. Speaking of Harley Quinn, the character’s 2020 solo outing Birds of Prey also underperformed at the box office and yet still managed a higher first-weekend gross of $33.01M before legging it to $84.16M domestic and $201.86M worldwide (with its earning potential somewhat curtailed by the start of the pandemic).
Given the lack of information provided about The Suicide Squad’s streaming performance on HBO Max, it’s difficult to know just how its total opening weekend audience compares with the first movie’s. No doubt, it will need to turn in a robust performance across both streaming and theatrical to justify its $185M budget.
Falling to second place was last weekend’s champ, Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which lost a significant number of IMAX and PLF screens to The Suicide Squad this weekend. The theme park ride adaptation dropped 55% to an estimated $15.7M in its sophomore frame — a notably better hold than the studio’s fellow Disney+ hybrid release Black Widow, which fell a steep 68% in its second weekend. Satisfied moviegoers have given Jungle Cruise a 92% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes, an indicator that the film is largely hitting with its intended audience. The Dwayne Johnson adventure title has $65.3M after ten days of release.
Old came in third place with an estimated $4.1M in its third weekend, dropping 40% from its sophomore frame. The Universal horror title has $38.5M to date.
Black Widow — which recently surpassed F9 to become the highest-grossing release of the pandemic to date — finished in fourth place with an estimated $4M, lifting the MCU entry’s total to $174.4M through the end of its fifth weekend.
At No. 5, Stillwater dropped just 45% an estimated $2.86M in its sophomore frame — a better hold than last weekend’s other two wide openers, Jungle Cruise (-55%) and The Green Knight (-62%) due to strong play in the South and Midwest, which represented 51.5% of the film’s weekend gross. The Matt Damon drama has $10M to date.
The Green Knight dropped 64% to an estimated $2.6M in its second weekend, good for sixth place. The A24 fantasy has $12.17M so far.
In seventh place, Space Jam: A New Legacy grossed an estimated $2.48M in its fourth weekend, bringing the Warner Bros. release to $65.65M so far.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins took eighth place with an estimated $1.63M — down 60% from last weekend, another steep drop — which brings the Paramount spinoff to a disappointing $26M after through the end of its third weekend. No. 9 on the chart went to Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which grossed an estimated $1.25M in its fourth weekend of release for a total of $23.04M.
Finally, F9 grossed an estimated $1.2M in its seventh weekend of release, good for a 10th place finish. The Universal sequel has $171M to date.
The Suicide Squad opened with an estimated $35M from 69 markets, including a $4.2M opening in Russia and a $2.6M debut in Korea. The film’s overseas total now stands at $45.7M, including 6 holdover territories.
Jungle Cruise took in an estimated $15.1M from 49 territories, putting its international cume at $56.5M and its global total at $121.8M. The highest-grossing markets to date are the U.K. ($8.5M), Russia ($5.9M), France ($4.2M) and Japan ($4M).
F9 grossed an estimated $12.03M from 61 territories including Japan, where the Universal sequel opened with an estimated $6.8M. It now has $490.32M internationally and $661.36M worldwide.
Space Jam: A New Legacy grossed an estimated $5.6M from 67 markets, bringing the Warner Bros. sequel to $69.8M internationally and $135.4M worldwide.
Studio Weekend Estimates: August 6 – August 8, 2021
|Title||Estimated weekend||% change||Locations||Location change||Average||Total||Weekend||Distributor|
|The Suicide Squad||$26,500,000||4,002||$6,622||$26,500,000||1||Warner Bros.|
|Jungle Cruise||$15,693,000||-55%||4,310||n/c||$3,641||$65,317,454||2||Walt Disney|
|Black Widow||$4,007,000||-38%||3,100||-260||$1,293||$174,358,784||5||Walt Disney|
|The Green Knight||$2,596,000||-62%||2,798||8||$928||$12,167,727||2||A24|
|Space Jam: A New Legacy||$2,475,000||-42%||2,869||-632||$863||$65,735,781||4||Warner Bros.|
|Escape Room: Tournament of Champions||$1,250,000||-44%||1,303||-783||$959||$23,040,370||4||Sony Pictures|
|The Boss Baby: Family Business||$740,000||-46%||1,405||-460||$527||$55,160,715||6||Universal|
|The Forever Purge||$510,000||-55%||779||-387||$655||$43,749,250||6||Universal|
|A Quiet Place Part II||$285,000||-54%||520||-259||$548||$159,391,550||11||Paramount|
|Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain||$175,000||-52%||268||-269||$653||$4,976,080||4||Focus Features|
|The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard||$81,100||-48%||179||-81||$453||$37,915,032||8||Lionsgate|
|Summer of Soul||$20,000||-62%||42||-43||$476||$2,256,616||6||Searchlight|
|Raya and the Last Dragon||$19,000||-27%||24||-6||$792||$54,722,006||23||Walt Disney|
|John and the Hole||$16,500||42||$393||$16,500||1||IFC Films|
|Bring Your Own Brigade||$7,000||27||$259||$7,000||1||Paramount|
|Naked Singularity||$3,050||1||$3,050||$3,050||1||Screen Media Films|