The Suicide Squad poster.

Things We Saw Today: The Suicide Squad Box Office Hurt by Delta, HBO Max

Plus Disenchanted, Dwayne Johnson, and more!
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James Gunn’s gleefully violent and hilarious The Suicide Squad opened to rave reviews and plenty of positive coverage on social media. Unfortunately, its critical success did not translate to the box office. The film opened to an underwhelming $26.5 million on its domestic opening weekend, and a worldwide gross of $72.2 million.

Two factors are largely to blame for the film’s performance: the rise of the Delta variant across the country, and the film’s same-day release on HBO Max. And it’s completely understandable. The Delta variant is highly contagious and people would rather watch movies in the comfort of their own home during a global pandemic.

HBO Max chief Andy Forssell didn’t reveal the streaming numbers for the film, but said that The Suicide Squad boasted the second-most viewed opening of any film premiering day-and-date on HBO Max (with Mortal Kombat taking the top spot). “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. “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.”

What a difference a month (and a variant) makes. Just last month Marvel’s Black Widow set a pandemic era record, earning $80 million in theaters on its opening weekend. Black Widow also earned over $60 million on Disney+, where it was available to watch on Premier Access for an additional $30. HBO Max aired The Suicide Squad with for free with its streaming subscription.

By comparison, the 2016 Suicide Squad, though critically reviled, earned over $746 million worldwide. And that film was PG-13, whereas Gunn’s film is a hard R. Of course, all this shows us is that our old notions of a film’s success at the box office has been entirely upended by the pandemic. And that’s something no film can compete with.

(via THR, image: Warner Bros.)

  • Critics can’t stop raving about Indigenous comedy series Reservation Dogs. (via IndieWire)
  • James Gunn decided to let this The Suicide Squad character survive. (via Collider)
  • Enchanted sequel Disenchanted has officially wrapped filming. (via /Film)
  • Luis Guzmán will play Gomez Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday series. (via Variety)
  • Here’s a ranking of every main series Street Fighter Game, if you’re into that sort of thing. (via CBR)
  • RIP Night Court star Markie Post, who passed away at 70. (via Deadline)
  • In this ever changing world, it’s a relief to know that The Rock keeps it clean.

Hope you’re having a super Sunday, Mary Suevians!

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.