‘The Suicide Squad’ Bows To A Disappointing $26.5 Million; Still Snags Top Spot At The U.S. Box Office
Five summers ago, the DC supervillain extravaganza Suicide Squad had a massive $133.7 opening weekend at the North American box office. Despite those eye-popping numbers, critics and audiences were left unimpressed by the film. This weekend, the complete opposite happened: critics and audiences loved its big-budget follow-up, The Suicide Squad, but its theatrical receipts were underwhelming, pulling in just $26.5 million in its debut weekend. In the age of COVID, it appears that up is down, black is white, and blockbusters just ain’t what they used to be.

Heading into the weekend, the Warner Bros. tentpole about a ragtag band of super-villains joining forces was forecast to earn somewhere in the vicinity of $30 million. But due to heightened concerns about the increased spread of the virus’ Delta variant and the fact that The Suicide Squad was simultaneously available to HBO Max subscribers for no additional cost, the film fell well short of those box-office predictions. Despite earning a 92% fresh rating from critics on Rottentomatoes.com and a solid B+ CinemaScore grade from pleased ticket buyers, the R-rated wannabe-blockbuster starring Margot Robbie (as the returning Harley Quinn), Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, and the bellowing shark voice of Sylvester Stallone earned a $6,621 per-screen average in 4,002 theaters. Overseas, the movie has added $45.7 million to date, bringing its worldwide cumulative gross to $72.2 million.

While it’s still unclear how many HBO Max customers watched the film at home—and how many more were enticed to sign up for the streaming service—it is clear that the film’s $185 million production budget is going to be tough to turn into the sort of huge moneymaker that comic-book movies were guaranteed to be prior to the pandemic. While the first Suicide Squad’s ultimate global box-office haul of $746.8 million seems way out of reach for the new film, Warner Bros. would probably be tickled pink if The Suicide Squad finished somewhere close to Robbie and Harley Quinn’s 2020 spin-off Birds of Prey, which pulled in $201.9 worldwide just as the world began closing down.

With The Suicide Squad as the weekend’s only new wide release, the rest of the top five looked vaguely familiar from last weekend. The previous session’s box-office champ, Jungle Cruise, was knocked down a peg to second place, where it racked up just under $15.7 million. Disney’s PG-13 white-water adventure starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt fell off -55.2% from last weekend, managing a $3,641 per-screen average at 4,310 locations. Those second-week numbers now bring the movie’s domestic box-office total to $65.3 million, while its $56.5 million in international receipts push its worldwide tally to $121.8 million. While Disney said that Jungle Cruise brought in an additional $30 million in premium VOD rentals on Disney Plus last weekend, it has not updated those streaming-revenue figures for the film’s second weekend.

In third place was director M. Night Shyamalan’s supernatural chiller, Old. The PG-13-rated release from Universal took in $4.1 million in its third frame, falling off -39.7% from the previous weekend. The film, which traces the mysterious aging process of a group of visitors to a seemingly idyllic stretch of sand and surf, earned a $1,319 per-screen average at 3,138 locations, bringing its three-week domestic total to $38.5 million. To date, Old has added a hair less than $26.7 million from international audiences, bringing its worldwide cume to $65.2 million.

In fourth was Disney and Marvel’s Black Widow, which tacked on $4 million in its fifth weekend in theaters. The PG-13-rated superhero stand-alone starring Scarlett Johansson dipped -38.1% from the previous session, scoring a $1,292 per-screen average in 3,100 theaters. The movie’s domestic box-office take now stands at $174.4 million, which pushed it past the latest Fast and the Furious installment, F9: The Fast Saga, to snag the crown as the top-grossing film of the year in North America. Factoring in Black Widow’s $185.4 million haul from overseas markets, the film’s worldwide cume now rests at $359.8 million. As with The Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise, it remains difficult to say just how much of an impact the film’s availability via streaming has eaten into its theatrical business.

Finally, in fifth place was Focus Features’ Stillwater. The R-rated indie thriller starring Matt Damon as a desperate father trying to free his daughter from an overseas prison fell off -44.9% from its opening weekend, adding just under $2.9 million in its sophomore frame. The movie, which barely edged out both The Green Knight and Space Jam: A New Legacy for top-five honors, earned a $1,095 per-screen average in 2,611 theaters, bringing its two-week North American box office total to $10 million. Stillwater still hasn’t opened internationally.