Box Office: ‘Suicide Squad’ Smashes Records With $135.1 Million Debut, ‘Nine Lives’ Dies

Jared Leto
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Suicide Squad” smashed records, scoring a colossal $135.1 million debut despite suffering some of the worst reviews of the year.

That sets a new high-water mark for an August launch, lapping “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” $94.3 million bow. It also ranks as a new personal best for star Will Smith, trumping “I Am Legend’s” $77.2 million debut in 2007. The action spectacle is resonating with foreign crowds. “Suicide Squad” earned $132 million overseas from 57 territories, bringing its global total to more than $267 million.

“It bested anything that we could have expected,” said Jeff Goldstein,  Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “The marketing campaign was brilliant and the performances by the cast, starting with Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto, were just extraordinary. They’re fun and wicked and fans enjoy it.”

“Suicide Squad” has been one of the most hotly anticipated films of the summer. Buzz on the film has built steadily since Warner Bros. released a teaser trailer at last year’s Comic-Con that highlighted Jared Leto’s grill-sporting Joker and Margot Robbie’s demented, highly gymnastic Harley Quinn. However, the studio was caught off guard by the fusillade of withering reviews, prompting widespread concern on the lot that the poor reception would dampen the opening numbers.

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And boy were those reviews awful! The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern called the film “…an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment,” New York’s David Edelstein branded it “the worst of the worst” and MTV’s Amy Nicholson dismissed the picture as “two hours of padding.”

“There’s a major disconnect with between what the critics are saying and what audiences are seeing,” said Goldstein.

Indeed, audiences appeared to like “Suicide Squad” better than critics, handing the film a B+ CinemaScore. Younger consumers were more receptive to the film’s charms than older moviegoers, with audiences under the age of 18 giving it an A rating. The question is will “Suicide Squad” show some endurance?

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the previous entry in DC Comics’ series of interconnected superhero films, was also a critical piñata. It managed to overcome the bad notices to debut to $166 million, but the poor word-of-mouth caught up to the film in its second weekend, pushing receipts down by nearly 70%.

There are signs the hostile reviews are already hobbling “Suicide Squad.” The film dropped sharply on Saturday, falling 41% from its Friday numbers — although it should be said that those grosses include Thursday pre-show results.

The studio has a lot riding on “Suicide Squad.” It spent $175 million making the picture, including tens of millions on reshoots. But the high cost isn’t the only concern. DC is struggling to generate the same level of excitement for its stable of Batman, Superman and assorted Justice League heroes that Marvel has managed to stoke for its movies about costumed avengers. It needs more of its films to be beloved, as well as financially successful.

“Suicide Squad” was a difficult birth. Production on the film was reportedly rushed with writer and director David Ayer having less than two months to turn a script around. The film centers on a team of super villains who are recruited for a black ops mission by the U.S. government.

Men accounted for 54% of “Suicide Squad’s” opening weekend audience, with more than half of the audience clocking in under the age of 25. Warner Bros. released the film across 4,255 locations. Imax accounted for 381 of those venues, and the big screen company comprised $11 million of the first weekend gross.

The weekend’s other new release, EuropaCorp’s “Nine Lives,” died a quick death. The story of a ruthless executive (Kevin Spacey) who gets transformed into a cat, coughed up $6.5 million, and managed to score even worse reviews than “Suicide Squad.” Spacey barely promoted the movie, which was the brainchild of former EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert, who originally envisioned the project as a comedy for adults before repositioning it as a family film. Ousted from the company last February, Lambert died of lung cancer in May. He was 51 years old. “Nine Lives” cost just over $30 million to make.

Last weekend’s champ, Universal’s “Jason Bourne,” dropped 62% in its second frame, topping out at $22 million. That was strong enough for a second place finish and brings the spy sequel’s domestic haul to $103.4 million.

STX Entertainment’s “Bad Moms” snagged third place in its second weekend, picking up $14.2 million. The raunchy comedy about a group of mothers who rebel against pressures to be perfect parents has made $51 million since opening, a healthy return on its $20 million budget. Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets” nabbed fourth place with $11.6 million. The family comedy is one of the year’s biggest hits, having made $319.6 million during its run. Paramount’s “Star Trek Beyond” rounded out the top five, earning $10.2 million to push its stateside gross to $127.9 million after three weeks.

Warner Bros. had something to celebrate besides “Suicide Squad’s” hefty numbers. The studio crossed the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office over the weekend, powered by hits such as “Central Intelligence,” “The Conjuring 2” and even the much-loathed “Batman v Superman.” The studio is now the only Hollywood player to reach that milestone for 16 years in a row.

“Suicide Squad” also helped lift the overall box office. Receipts for the weekend will finish up at roughly $230 million, a nearly 74% jump on the year-ago period when “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” was in its second weekend of release. Once dismissed as a dumping ground for movies, August has become an important platform for more off-beat studio fare such as 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton” and 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“What was formerly the dog days of summer is now a land of opportunity,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.

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  1. The disconnect between critics and the actual audience is because the critics are actually mature enough to review the film. The actual audience is between 16 and 25 who get a hard-on over anything with blood and guts and then realize they wasted their money on it. Box office results don’t count until the 2ND week. The marketing, where many of the studio’s spend a large part of the budget is to make the movie look exciting enough to get you in the first week. It’s all a game.

    • Kyle says:

      Really, I thought it was just the weekend that a studio counted the flick as success or not? I thought that’s how it’s been?

  2. Ryan Hall says:

    Deadshot spinoff please, and if we can kill off that insufferable Jim Carrey-asd Joker I’m down for a Harley movie too. Just bring in Poison Ivy. And the haters can keep doomsaying every movie while records continue to break, the world continues to spin.

  3. Mary Margaret Johnston says:

    As a cat (nine of them) owner, I LOVED “Nine Lives.” It was charming, thoughtful, very innovative. And if one could get inside a cat’s head, the film captured what a real cat would be thinking. The struggle with the pen was hilarious! The audience cheered and booed at all the right places. More believable than The Secret Lives of Pets because the cats were REAL.

  4. stevenkovacs says:

    Remember when summer film releases were fun? Well, everyone behind ‘Suicide Squad’ did, and that it was! I agree it could’ve been a stronger, deeper storyline, but, it delivers the entertainment and that’s what the audience wants in summer films!
    The ‘tentpole’ blueprint needs to be torn up and re-drawn. Many of these films don’t need to be made or even shouldn’t be made for $150+ million dollars, with CGI making up for weak scripts. This affected ‘SS’ too, but the cast’ enthusiasm shows and Ayer’s ‘let’s keep it moving’ pace works!

  5. Blackjack115 says:

    Congratulations critics, you played yourselves.

  6. Team Hari Kari says:

    Congrats to Will Smith for his new box office record. It must feel awesome to still be able to headline a film that can command this type of opening. Unfortunately the success will be short lived. This movie is already imploding at the box office. However, things could be worse. It could have opened DOA like 9Lives. I hope it’s makers didn’t lose their shirts financing that drek.

  7. Aaron Morris says:

    Suicide Squad has already grossed some 90 million dollars more than Ghostbusters. Where’s the headline about Ghostbusters BOMBING?

    • I haven’t seen it yet, but I am a bit stunned why movies like “The Legend of Tarzan” was labelled as a flop (it will not be a hit, but it grossed about 330 Million Worldwide by now) and “Ghostbusters” is simply not mentioned anymore, even though the Box Office numbers don’t look too good. Especially the Foreign Box Office.

      • therealeverton says:

        themanwiththelist
        No worries and thanks for the feedback mate. Have a good day.

      • @therealeverton

        Well said. Thanks for all the input.

      • therealeverton says:

        @ themanwiththelistNo problem.

        Spain and Japan, Japan is a pretty big market and SPain can be, but they aren’t “saving” Ghostbusters. TI honestly think it is just as I said. Because th film had an organised campaign waged against it – Negative buz, both real and manufactured. False low scores posted on IMDB and more from contries where the film hadn’t even been released and so on – There’s a releuctance to harp on abo the film’s problems and 1. blame the film for something that had litttle to dowith it and 2 help the cause of those who were against the film. All the more so when a number of those, whther a loud minority, or a lrger contingnent, were acting from a sexist perspective.

        The last thing they want to be seen to be doing is helping a sexist cause (again I know that’s not ALL, or even most of it) and worse discouraging Hollywood from putting women in more starring roles in big films. (As they have been accused of doing in th past.)

        For cerain minus the controversy they’d have been talking about Ghostbusters losing money a LOT more, but there are good reasons, or at least understadable ones, for them not doing so.

        That said if Tarzan had cost what Ghostbusters did it would be alot closer to aa sequel right now.

      • @therealeverton

        Thanks for the comment.
        I was just surprised, that Variety seemed to have a list of movies, they were always calling out in Box Office reports when talking about the bombs of the summer, but underperforming movies like “Ghostbusters” were never mentioned again. Yes, it isn’t relevant anymore, but even in articles about the project, you will find sentences about “that it didn’t quite worked”, while calling a movie like “Tarzan”, which did better at Worldwide Box Office, was called a bomb. I simply don’t get this disconnect between the numbers and what I read in some articles.

        Or am I missing some key markets, where “Ghostbusters” wasn’t released yet and what will push the numbers?

      • therealeverton says:

        You kind of answered your own question. Ghostbusters isn’t mentioned anymore as it isn’t really relevant. Both films will lose money at the box office. However Tazan is both earning more money BUT cost more And doesn’t have the excuse of an organised campaign waged against it. (however justified some of those running said campaign feel about it, this isn’t about the argument, just pointing out the differences in circumstances.)

        There will come a point whee they talk about Ghostbusters and how much money it will lose and whether it will do enough, in spite of the naysayers to continue, which seems very unlikely, but Rentals etc. may change that.

      • maurice taylor says:

        This is a cult classic.. It is a hit..I loved this movie.. And the money will rain in.. Thanks W.B. and D.C. Do another 

        Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    • therealeverton says:

      1. ~There were numerous headlines about Ghostbusters being in trouble with a good, but not good enough opening.
      2. Suicide Squad doesn’t have headlines about it bombing either so what are you actually asking here?
      3. Suicide Squad is the 2nd of 3 films designed to get a shared universe going (4th if you count Green Lantern) and it has again, apparently, failed to please enough of the audience. The fear is that if this keeps happening, the shared universe won’t work because people won’t return to it in big numbers and won’ show up, hardly at all, for the films with characters they don’t know,that seem silly and / or minus megastars like Will Smith.

      You’re just not making a relevant comparison even if the headlines were what you say and tey are not.

    • maurice taylor says:

      It will be able to get 300 million before it’s done..I loved it

      Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  8. Maurice Taylor says:

    The greatest film so far in the D.C. Group.I have 20 years in the toy business. And they are ripping the toys off the shelf. This movie is a cult classic.
    I predict 300 million total with the toy sales.

  9. IvYLeague says:

    They’re PRing their butts off, lies more lies, and misleading publicity. Sheep will follow people that know, simply know what’s the truth. Warner Brothers must start using their brains, can’t believe the fell for this.

  10. KillingJoke says:

    This movie is a boxoffice success thanks to the mega marketing they’ve been doing since preproduction time, not because of any merits of the movie, they sold the movie through Jared Leto and the Joker who is barely in it and completely wasted on the most absurd and ridiculous wannabe love stories of all time. The critics are being kind most of the time not even pointing to the real biggest issues this story has to tell, fans are being kind and loyal but all of us are majorly disappointed.

  11. Sunny says:

    The real winner is Bad Moms. That’s all.

  12. Jacques Strappe says:

    What Goldstein meant to say is that there is a major disconnect between the unrelenting, 365+ days marketing hype pre-selling a luxury time share on the beach in paradise to actually delivering a shack overlooking the garbage dump in Hooterville.. Props to crack marketing departments everywhere which can sell snow to Eskimos. Fans of these crappy WB DC comic book-based films can boast all they want and do the happy dance about record setting opening weekend box office but in the end, a turd is still a turd, even when it’s fresh from the Fresh Prince himself.

  13. Bas says:

    Hahahahahahahahaha…DC-WB got themselves another Transformer in Disguise franchise!

  14. Didn’t Variety predict $140 million not $132 million, so that it fell short of the predictions? Anyhoo, that Friday-to-Saturday drop is not good news. Forget the foreign sales for the moment–we don’t know how much the studio is actually getting of that. The film needs to make at least $400 million domestic (depending on how much those reshoots cost) just to break even. If it bombs after opening weekend, it may have a hard time managing that, let alone making a big profit.

    • Damon Tammas says:

      You cannot exclude international business in order to make a point. All of the money factors into the bottom line, not just domestic. And since most high budget movies are made explicitly with international profits in mind, the studios will be getting the lion’s share, just like they do against the theaters here.

  15. Richard says:

    And a projected Sunday drop of 20 % is optimistic when BvS whose Saturday drop was 37% v 41% dropped 33% on Sunday and GOTG did drop just 18% on a similar Sunday in August but it’s Saturday drop was only 18% also .

  16. Bill B. says:

    I’d rather see Nine Lives and it looks terrible.

  17. James John says:

    I haven’t seen the movie since the trailer looks boring. I’ll catch it on free TV in a few months.

  18. naps1saps says:

    The numbers are inflated due to the freebie from T-mobile to its whole user base for opening day tickets. I doubt it would have been that high if not for that.

    Personally I thought it was severely lacking after the opening introductions. The plot was lame and the character interaction was pretty dry. The dialog was basic. Now I’m not a comic reader so this is my opinion. I’m sure the character fans out there have opposite views. These movies are hard for writers to find a balance between something both comic and non-comic readers will enjoy. I give it a ‘meh’.

    • Damon Tammas says:

      T-mobile couldn’t give away enough tickets to boost anything that high, they aren’t that big any more. It’s fascinating that keeps popping up on multiple stories, I’m really starting to think this is a Marvel Studios conspiracy paying off a bunch of blogger critics to stop any other superhero franchises.

      • naps1saps says:

        I wish i was getting money for my review ^_^
        I’m going to watch Superman v Batman eventually to see if I like it. My friend loved Suicide Squad but relates more to the 16yo demographic instead of the 30yo he is. I really liked the Green Lantern movie but the reviews were even worse than this one. I’m still waiting for a sequel. I’m not all bad xD

  19. Jim says:

    Reviews have little impact on opening weekend for a movie like Suicide Squad that had a lengthy and expense marketing push. Fanboys had their tickets before any reviews came out. The impact of reviews and word of mouth will be much more evident on weekend #2. Without the China market and the loss of a significant chunk of the Mexico market, this film should end its box office run around $600 to $650 million worldwide if it follows a comparable trajectory as B vs. S, which is a reasonable assumption at this point.

  20. Jim Harlow says:

    I almost didn’t go because of the bad reviews. I am so glad I didn’t listen to the critics. Despite a weak third act, it is a fun action film. Margo Robbie is brilliant. She hits it out of the ball park with that performance. Will Smith is as great as ever. Jai Courtney and his pink unicorn is very funny. I went with two other guys. We all loved it.

  21. Mjkbk says:

    Nine Lives scored a B+ Cinemascore, too–despite WAY more scathing reviews than Suicide Squad received. But NL cost only $30 million.

    A $179 million summer “tentpole” needs better than a B+ grade from audiences to make a real go of it at the box office.

    At this point, I don’t foresee the repeat business these kinds of films normally depend on.

    • vishal says:

      Inception got a B+ cinemascore and had BIG LEGS, did $824 million WW.
      Alice TTLG got a A- cinemascore and BOMBED. Cinemascore isn’t a perfect way of determining a film’s fate.

      • Damon Tammas says:

        I’d have to agree, Cinemascore, Rottentomatoes and the rest of the blogger ‘critics’ are writing more for themselves, not the public. Apparently we don’t agree with their opinions at all, as the repeated differences in ‘scores’ reflects.

    • Bill Clay says:

      I see Suicide Squad following the same exact trajectory that Batman v Superman did. Big opening with bad reviews, followed by a huge drop. DC has perfected the release hype but hasn’t yet figured out how to deliver an enjoyable movie in the Marvel mold.

      • JR says:

        Thing is, we don’t want DC to follow the Marvel mold. That is the last thing we need. I was hoping that the DC movies would make serious films using comic book characters. And reportedly the director of Suicide Squad tried to do just that. But Warner Brothers wanted a silly and goofy alternate cut. Unfortunately for us that is what is playing in theaters now. We already have Marvel making the light family friendly comic book movies. We don’t need another company trying to do the same thing. A shame that Warner Brothers doesn’t have the guts to trust and stand by their
        filmmakers.

  22. Johnny says:

    The Force Awakens dropped 42%, the last Harry Potter film dropped 50%, despite great reviews. We know how much bank these movies made in the long run. Steep Fri-Sat drop is nothing unusual. Let’s see what happens in a week.

    • therealeverton says:

      You’re apples and orangesing this thing. Like for like comparisons for Star Wars, you need to look at the actual Friday to Saturday. (You also need to consider that with the ridiculous size of the opening day $120m, a drop of of some magnitude was 1 a given, 2. not a concern.

      In the days of Thursday opening nights counting to Friday a “slight” “Real” drop is expected. But when you get a total drop of 41% it shows that you have literally dropped day to day, not just because day 1 was actuality 1.5 days.

      Simple terms. Star Wars made $57m on Thursday so its “true” Friday gross was $63m. That means the Saturday gross of $8m, despite being so front loaded, was till UP from Friday.

      Suicide Squad made $20.5m on Thursday, so $44.5m on Friday. That means it dropped to $38.8 on Saturday, a “real” drop day to day. So sorry they are correct to speculate in the direction they have chosen. You may always find a few examples that are off a trend, but what’s most consistent is what you go with something that happens 95 times out of 100 is more likely to happen again.

      It’s all guesswork, but it is educated guesswork and they are using correct metrics here.

      (For what it’s worth Harry Potter was a unique series and followed a particular pattern, despite opening on different days and times of the year.) It is the definition of front loaded, but also has ludicrous repeat business. Unless you are Twilight or something, you can’t compare a film to Harry Potter and expect similar results, it stands apart.)

      • therealeverton says:

        @Johnny
        Thanks mate. Also sorry for the typos..should have checked harder. That Saturday gross for Force awakens was $68m, not $8m. But I’m guessing you worked that out despite me!)

      • Johnny says:

        Interesting. Thanks for elaborating on the matter.

  23. Aj says:

    Read the Article that’s cited for “worst of the worst”, he never uses it in context of the movie actually being bad. Just certain consequences and premise of the film (where the squad is the worst of the worst baddies). Just click bait article. See the film it’s enjoyable.

    • therealeverton says:

      Oh he really does..
      “As storytelling, Suicide Squad is the worst of the worst”

      He’s very clear that he thinks it is a bad film, but he has an issue with “franchise” films and comic book films in general, which he hammers home by ignoring facts contrary to his argument.

      But mate, he hates this film and thinks it is pretty bad.

      For my money, it isn’t a “good” film. It has a LOT of issues, but I was lways entertained. I called it an entertaining disappointment. But it isn’t good, it should have been much, much better.

  24. therealeverton says:

    “DC is struggling to generate the same level of excitement for its stable of Batman, Superman, and other Justice League fixtures that Marvel has managed to stoke for its movies”

    This is inaccurate. They are generating as much excitement. In fact they have, because of decades of TV and film appearances, as well as good marketing, the “good fortune” to be at the place it took Marvel Studios 4 years and several films to reach.

    The opening numbers for these films are evidence people are excited, but the quality of the films for critics and many (I know not ALL) of the public, and some fns, is not good enough.

    They are failing to build a fanbase that when something akin to Guardians (with no stars and no name direct and no beloved cameos) or Ant-Man comes out, people will still show up.They aren’t making people think they need to see these films twice and bring friends and family.

    Getting people in, for now, isn’t a problem. It’s the future that is the concern and this drop off already is a bad sign. That so many in our screening didn’t appear to be having the level of fn that some of us were, is concerning.

    We mostly (some fans of either side just won’t give any quarter) want good films from all sources. WB’s DC films, Marvel Studios’ films, Fox’s X-Men films and so on. The better they are, the larder they have to try to keep up right? Look at the affect Bourne had on Bond and Mission Impossible and then they on each other, even though they aren’t identical in scope or execution. A great Justice league film makes a better Avenger 4, a Brilliant r. Strange, makes a better Aquaman and son.

    • KTR says:

      The DC universe has more well known heroes than Marvel but Warner Brothers can’t make one good DCU movie. Nolan’s last two Batman movies were more successful than Batman AND Superman. The drop off for Squad will be hard – maybe it gets 500m world to break even. WW and TJL will cost a fortune and suffer the same fate.

      Marvel invests in good writers. They take the time to find the right directors with a vision for those scripts. Even their worst movie is better than DCU’s best. Quit letting Zach Snyder et al ruin our comic universe. I grew up loving DCU and the cartoons. The new movies make me embarrassed tp be a fan. There’s no way Superman should be celebrated less than Captain America.

      • Sack says:

        I agree with KTR. I grew up watching Marvel and DC cartoons but I read only Marvel comics. I wish these Hollywood types stop letting goofballs make movies with “their interpretation”. Just give fanboys what they want. Marvel’s movies (excluding the garbage from Fox movies) are closer to being like their comics than DC films. Give the fanboys what they want and throw in a few jokes and you will get success.

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