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Box Office: ‘Suicide Squad’ Targets Record-Breaking $125 Million Debut

Fans could give the DC Comics cinematic universe a second chance.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” may have been given a cold shoulder from critics and received a tepid response from fans, but audiences are still interested in the comic book company’s movies. “Suicide Squad,” a spin-off centered around an elite team of super-villains,  is racing towards a smashing August debut, according to pre-release tracking. It should bring in anywhere from $100 million to $125 million, on the high end, when it hits theaters on Aug. 5. That should easily bypass “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” $94.3 million launch to become the biggest debut ever for an August release.

It’s still early, so those numbers could shift depending on whether or not reviewers like the film, but it likely has the brass at Warner Bros. breathing a sigh of relief. The studio had intended to launch its own in-house answer to Marvel with “Batman v Superman,” but pitting the Man of Steel against the Dark Knight didn’t set off the kind of fireworks it had hoped. The film grossed $872.7 million globally, but with a budget of $250 million and millions more spent on promotion and advertising, analysts were disappointed that it didn’t hit the $1 billion mark.

Suicide Squad” had its own struggles. The film endured extensive re-shoots, which one insider said was to fill out the backstories of several characters and to fix some tonal issues. Warner Bros. hasn’t released a budget, but that kind of additional photography is usually pricey.

“Suicide Squad” features a number of Batman adversaries, including the Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Will Smith (Deadshot) who are recruited by a shadowy government agency to pull off a black ops mission. Ben Affleck’s Batman will also show up, providing another link to the DC Comics universe. David Ayer  (“End of Watch”) directed and wrote the film.

It’s been a bruising summer at the box office, with a number of costly flops such as “Warcraft” and “The BFG” dampening spirits. In that atmosphere, “Suicide Squad’s” tracking could give the industry hope that things might be on the upswing. There’s more reason for optimism. Universal’s “Jason Bourne,” which brings back Matt Damon as the amnesiac spy, is also resonating with audiences. The thriller is on pace for a launch in the $50 million range.

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