The Suicide Squad box office

  • The new Suicide Squad and reception: I’m gonna try to keep this brief because I already have a reaction up for that on my blog. Basically, The Suicide Squad is a soft reboot of the David Ayer helmed production from 2016. Basically in my reaction, I do talk about how despite not being the biggest fan of James Gunn and not finding the film to be all that humorous, I still enjoyed it. I think the development he made for the new characters worked well and it was better than its predecessor. Although that does not take much.
  • The Suicide Squad opening Box Office: So with extremely high anticipation and great critical review the biggest talk this week is the disappointing opening of The Suicide Squad. The Suicide Squad opened worldwide to the north of $70 million. Now the reason people were shocked by this number was that it seemed like people were ready to get back to the cinemas again this was indicated by the opening of Black Widow, which opened a few weeks prior, to the north of $150 million. Now, in the Variety article, comparisons to Wonder Woman: 1984 are made because it had opened to the north of $50 million worldwide. Back then that was disappointing but the caveat was that it was a time when only approximately 35% of cinemas were open and right now approximately 85% of cinemas are open. So what is the real reason for Suicide Squad underperforming?
  • Reason for Box office numbers: To be honest I don’t think it is just one reason, I think The Suicide Squad’s box office numbers are just a victim to a perfect storm of contextual issues surrounding not just DC but the world. I would like to state the two obvious things. First, we are still in a pandemic and despite people getting vaccinated, the slow progress has led to variants and cases to rise and that usually scares moviegoers back indoors. We saw this happening to Wonder Woman: 1984 as well, so despite more cinemas being opened, more people are afraid to go out. The second thing is the fact that this is an R-rated film and R-rated films, that are not horror, generally don’t gross that well anyway. Of course, you can make references to Joker and Deadpool but those are the exceptions, not the rule. I was also going to add that it opened on HBO Max at the same time but so did Mortal Kombat, which is also rated R, and it got more debut viewership according to Samba TV and considering that Black Widow also debuted on Disney+ I don’t think it’s a relevant point. At the end of the day The Suicide Squad didn’t do well because of three reasons: 
    • The Suicide Squad is not the most popular draw especially without big name characters like Deadshot and the Joker. See Birds of Prey. It’s like making a Titans film without Starfire or Beast Boy. See the reception of the Titans show.
    • Lack of star power. The first Suicide Squad had Jared Leto and Will Smith who on their good days are Oscar-contenders. Yes, this had Margot Robbie and Idris Elba but it pains me to say that these two don’t have enough star power to drive people to the cinemas.
    • Everything about this film from its inception to its reactions has the DC fanbase split. A lot of people feel like Gunn is a breath of fresh air to the DCEU but other people feel like the welcoming treatment Gunn received, from Warner Media and DC Films, is indicative of favouritism as both David Ayer and Zack Snyder had their films butchered and released to the public with their names on it because of Warner’s insistence on a change in tone. I understand both sides of this.

Birds of Prey comparisons

  • I have been seeing people online praising The Suicide Squad for its change in tone and the way the story was presented but I have also seen a lot of people complaining about how Gunn is being praised for this but Cathy Yan, director of Birds of Prey, got complaints. I do want to point out that there are people who dislike both of these films but this is not about them, this is about the reasoning for people who like The Suicide Squad but didn’t like Birds of Prey. So let’s talk about what people are saying made these films similar:
    • Tone: A lot of critics are praising Gunn for his change in tonal direction for the film and dubbing it as one of a kind but a lot of people feel like the tone was first adapted by Yan in Birds of Prey. I want to be fair here, I actually think that the shift in tone began with the OG Suicide Squad, in 2016, that’s why it got butchered, to meet Warner’s new mandate on tone for the DCEU.
    • The time jumps: The Suicide Squad often has moments, in the film, when it goes and backwards in time to explain certain things and so did Birds of Prey. While Gunn got praised for it, Yan got complaints despite going back in time makes sense when you think about how the story was being told by Harley Quinn.
    • The quirkiness and visual aesthetic: Gunn is not a stranger to quirky characters and has had great success in depicting these characters so for me, I was not surprised when the eccentricity of certain characters was ramped up. What a lot of people had a problem with, that I agree with, is that in Birds of Prey, Harley often has hallucinations and of course it might be weird but it makes sense because she is an unreliable narrator, for obvious reasons, so of course there are going to be parts of the film that have these things that she remembered differently. Whereas in The Suicide Squad when Harley starts seeing birds and flowers everywhere there is no explanation for this and Gunn gets praised again. It also makes sense that Birds of Prey, which was told through the eyes of Harley would then be as colourful as her personality.
    • Violence and rated-R: The way that the fight sequences are fought for Harley in particular, there is huge creativity and a lot of people feel like Harley’s fighting style was definitely taken from Birds of Prey. That I feel like can be explained away by similar producers or fight/stunt coordinators so I won’t get too deep into that. What I will say is that both of these movies could have easily dropped their R-rating by carefully strategically editing the fight/death scenes but that’s just my opinion.

Birds of Prey; Variety article; The Suicide Squad;