A lot of people in the entertainment industry are scratching their heads over the bombing of The Suicide Squad.
To give you an idea of how big of bomb it is, the original Suicide Squad made over $100 million more in its opening weekend than this new one. That is REALLY, REALLY bad.
And yet, there were those who were predicting that this would be one of the biggest hits of the year. Dan Murrell, who makes a game every year of predicting the summer box office, had this as his number 2 movie behind Black Widow. And he was not alone. The movie has an incredibly high critic and audience score and there was a gigantic media blitz.
So what happened?
A lot of people are blaming COVID, and I think they are correct to some extent. But even in a pre-COVID world the movie would still be a bomb that may have done a little better.
Some have blamed its simultaneous release on HBO Max. But the movie has been viewed way less than other films like Godzilla vs. Kong on the platform. So even for subscribers there is little interest.
Not to sound smug, but when laying out my box office predictions, I said that the analysts were wrong about this movie: it would not be a big hit. I gave reasons why in a previous post, but I shall elaborate.
There is a reason why every Marvel movie is PG-13: they make more money. To be sure, there are some exceptions. It's clear that Warner Bros. was hoping that The Suicide Squad would be their Deadpool. But Deadpool is clearly a comedy set in the X-Men universe. But The Suicide Squad was pushed as a super hero film with comedic elements, like Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie is geared towards this audience, but parents are not likely to take their kids to see something as mature as this.
2. Lack of Interest
As mentioned, the last Suicide Squad opened big because it had huge hype along with one of the best movie trailers I have ever seen. But overall reaction to the film was lukewarm. This is not a movie that has a devoted following. On top of that, the second Harley Quinn movie Birds of Prey was a gigantic bomb (it was also the worst movie of the year). Everything about this data indicates that you are going to get a diminishing, not increasing return on your box office. Also, look at the lineup of characters. If I'm a normie, the only one I recognize is Harley Quinn and that is not a big plus for the box office.
It has only been 5 years since the last Suicide Squad and the title makes it sound like a reboot or at worst a re-release. Warner Bros. confused the hype and awareness of this movie on YouTube channels for awareness in the general public. One of the big problems with the modern digital age is that a few people on social media can give the impression of a group larger than what actually exists. But hype and awareness of the movie was not reaching the normies.
4. Bad Word of Mouth
This next part is anecdotal, rather than data-driven, but I think I am right. This movie is not made of mainstream audiences. While audience score is high, the people I know who have seen it have all said how much they didn't like it. So why did people like Deadpool and not The Suicide Squad? Because Deadpool, with its meta comedy and fourth-wall-breaking style lets you know that you can wink at the comedy. And (this is important), Deadpool only kills bad guys. True, non-villains do die horrifically for laughs (see X-Force). But Deadpool doesn't kill them directly and he saves the nicest one in the post-credits scene. The Suicide Squad plays for laughs the deaths of innocents and the heroes. When one of the main characters gets killed as a punchline, the message is "Hey, we don't care about our characters." And neither will the audience.
5. James Gunn: Box Office Poison
The Guardians of the Galaxy films are enormous hits, but that's because of Marvel's guiding hand. If you look at all of his other movies he has directed, not a single one made over $10 million domestic. James Gunn is like a sitcom actor who bombs doing stand-up: he can deliver when given strong oversight, but left on his own he is terrible. His tastes tend towards the violent, but not in a way that is cathartic. Instead there is a perverse reveling in morally relative carnage.
What are your thoughts? Why did this movie bomb so badly?