by Brad Brevet
FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Suicide Squad got off to a strong start last night, pulling in $20.5 million from Thursday night preview screenings nearly doubling the previous August record of $11.2 million set by Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014 before it opened with $94.3 million, the current August opening weekend record. Suicide Squad screenings started at approximately 6 PM and took place in 3,700+ locations. The total includes IMAX screenings which grossed $2.4m.
Suicide Squad's Thursday preview number is the 13th largest of all-time (including midnight's)*, just ahead of The Hunger Games ($19.7m from midnight screenings at ~2,500 locations) and just behind Man of Steel ($21m / $9m from midnight screenings and $12m from Thursday night). Considering the comparisons made to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in our weekend preview below it's best we mention Batman v Superman brought in $27.7 million from Thursday previews back in March before opening with $166 million.
We'll be updating this article tomorrow with Friday estimates, just below is our complete weekend preview and forecast.
WEKEND PREVIEW: Even before it has officially been released Suicide Squad is already breaking records as it will premiere in over 4,250 theaters nationwide making it the widest August release of all-time. Next is the August opening weekend record, which is currently held by Guardians of the Galaxy with $94.3 million, a number that will surely be blown away come Sunday evening, as Suicide Squad looks to become the third superhero film to break an opening weekend record in 2016.
Earlier this year it was Deadpool taking the February opening weekend record with a massive $132.4 million debut. A month later, Warner Bros' DC Comics adaptation Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice broke the March record with a $166 million opening despite largely negative reviews and a mixed audience response. Suicide Squad is Warner's latest attempt to breathe life into their DC Comics Universe, this time relying on a Dirty Dozen-esque team of antiheroes. Director David Ayer is at the helm for what is his largest feature to date with a reported budget of $175 million and more than its fair share of ups and downs leading up to release.
In true modern day blockbuster fashion, Suicide Squad's trials and tribulations during production have been well documented and the early reviews are just about as "good" as they were for Batman v Superman, which scored a 27% at RottenTomatoes. By comparison, Suicide Squad currently holds a 29% at RottenTomatoes and an average rating of 4.8/10, the latter of which is a shade below Batman v Superman. However, while the pre-release response from audiences toward reviews for Batman v Superman seemed to be more "Toldja!", the reviews for Suicide Squad have inspired a different reaction.
Fans began expressing their frustration with the critical reviews by petitioning for RottenTomatoes to be shut down, suggesting critics "always give The DC Extended Universe movies unjust Bad Reviews." While the shuttering of RottenTomatoes won't be happening any time soon, fan support is evident and nowhere more so than on the film's Facebook page which currently has over 3.8 million followers, a number that is larger than the 3.2 million followers Deadpool had ahead of release and just shy of the 3.9 million followers Batman v Superman had. Added to that, online ticket retailer Fandango.com reports Suicide Squad is their top August pre-seller in the company's 16-year history, eclipsing 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. So what does this mean for the film's opening weekend box office?
The studio is remaining conservative with a $100-125 million projection while early tracking pointed toward a $140 million opening. A look at IMDb traffic data shows Suicide Squad outperforming all competitive titles, including Batman v Superman, at the same point in the release cycle. To that point, Batman v Superman opened in 4,242 theaters compared to the 4,255 for Suicide Squad of which 380+ will show the film in IMAX, over 490 PLF locations, 270+ drive-ins, 180+ D-Box locations and over 200+ dine-in/luxury theaters. These numbers are all comparable to what we saw with Batman v Superman, which managed to open with $166 million despite the negative reviews which resulted in the film becoming the only feature to ever open over $150 million with a RottenTomatoes rating lower than 63%. Can Suicide Squad become the second?
To directly compare to Batman v Superman, the obvious disadvantage Suicide Squad has is the fact it's title doesn't include Batman or Superman. While Ben Affleck is said to appear in the film as Batman, this clearly isn't a Batman film. The response to Batman v Superman is also of concern. While it did open with a record-breaking $166 million, it only managed to deliver $330 million domestically. This makes the film's 1.99 multiplier the worst all-time for a film opening over $100 million. In that sense, perhaps it's to Suicide Squad's benefit that it is somewhat removed from Batman v Superman.
Then there's the film's diverse cast, led by Will Smith and Margot Robbie as Deadshot and Harley Quinn respectively. Add to that Jared Leto as The Joker along with Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne and you've got a strong ensemble with plenty of name recognition.
All things considered, a $140 million opening would seem a very real possibility for the three-day. In fact, given the fan support and anticipation that has been building ever since it was announced, including a major push at this year's Comic Con, it wouldn't be surprising to see an opening over $150 million. That said, the negative reviews, coupled with any kind of carryover from the mixed response to Batman v Superman, could have a significant impact on the film's Saturday and Sunday performance, preventing the opening from breaking out too big. While Batman v Superman was able to overcome the flurry of media criticism ahead of release it will be a true test to see if Suicide Squad can manage the same.
Internationally, Suicide Squad has already started hitting theaters, pulling in $8.1 million yesterday from seven international markets including Korea ($2.9m), France ($2.7m) and Sweden ($564k). The film premieres in Russia, Australia and Brazil today and is opening in a total of 57 international markets this week. For the sake of comparison, Batman v Superman debuted in 66 international markets back in March and hauled in over $256 million in its opening weekend.
Also opening wide this weekend is EuropaCrop's family comedy Nine Lives featuring Kevin Spacey as a talking cat. Coming up with competitive titles is a bit difficult for this one with The Odd Life of Timothy Green feeling like the closest comparison as it opened in mid-August in 2012 with $10.8 million from 2,717 theaters. Nine Lives is set to debut in 2,264 theaters and an opening around $7-8 million would seem like a safe bet, give or take a million on either side.
More interesting than Nine Lives will be to pay close attention to last weekend's new releases. Jason Bourne is headed into its second weekend after a chart-topping $59.2 million opening. The question is to wonder whether it remains close to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, which followed up its $55.5 million opening with a 48.7% second weekend drop or does it perform closer to Star Trek Beyond, which dropped 58.2% in its second weekend. Looking deeper, Bourne has been performing behind Rogue Nation on a daily basis and it is still up against Star Trek Beyond and is going to lose audience to Suicide Squad. All of which has forced us to end up somewhere in the middle, anticipating a second weekend around $28 million.
We'll also be keeping an eye on Bad Moms, which has the possibility of breaking out and holding on strong this weekend after its $23.8 million debut. As noted in our wrap-up last Sunday, the film played just ahead of Melissa McCarthy's The Boss during its opening weekend, which dropped 57.8% in its second weekend. We don't expect Bad Moms to dip that much, especially given its "A" CinemaScore, which historically (based on the number of theaters Bad Moms opened in), leads to a second weekend drop around 42%, which would suggest a $13.8 million three-day.
Finally, Woody Allen's Cafe Society is going a bit wider adding another 66 theaters for a total of 631. Last weekend the film delivered $2.3 million from 565 theaters.
Overall, we're looking at a second weekend where the top twelve is targeting more than $240 million, a dramatic improvement over the same weekend last year, which saw Rogue Nation claim number one in its second weekend and the top twelve totaled a mere $119.9 million.
This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.
- Suicide Squad (4,255 theaters) - $145 M
- Jason Bourne (4,040 theaters) - $27.8 M
- Bad Moms (3,215 theaters) - $13.8 M
- Star Trek Beyond (3,263 theaters) - $12.1 M
- The Secret Life of Pets (3,413 theaters) - $10.6 M
- Nine Lives (2,264 theaters) - $6.9 M
- Ice Age: Collision Course (2,738 theaters) - $5.8 M
- Lights Out (2,581 theaters) - $5.6 M
- Nerve (2,538 theaters) - $4.9 M
- Ghostbusters (2,545 theaters) - $4.9 M
* This article was updated where we previously said it was the 12th largest Thursday preview, not accounting for the $21 million Man of Steel brought in, which included $9 million from midnight screenings and another $12 million from Thursday evening Wal-Mart event screenings.