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Task Force X is back on the big screen after a five-year hiatus and despite the filmmaking pedigree of writer/director James Gunn, the DC team-up project slightly underperformed across the traditional weekend cycle. While The Suicide Squad managed to set a pandemic box office record Thursday night with $4.1 million in preview screenings, the highly-anticipated release only managed to bring in a domestic total of $26.5 million through Sunday. That's the biggest kickoff for an R-rated movie since Universal released its modern update on The Invisible Man in March of 2020.
That's over $100 million less than the domestic weekend opening for the 2016's Suicide Squad, which managed to defy near-universal criticism with almost $800 million at the global box office and an Oscar win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. On the critical side, however, The Suicide Squad is nothing like its predecessor, having garnered near-universal acclaim from both fans and critics (it currently holds an incredibly fresh score of 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes).
The Suicide Squad's lackluster bow in the U.S. could be chalked up to a combination of growing concerns about the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus and the fact that the movie is free to stream for HBO Max subscribers at no extra cost. The North American numbers seem to imply that most fans have decided to stay at home rather than brave theaters again. Fortunately, the lineup of villains-turned-heroes did much better internationally with $35 million from 69 markets (Harley Quinn would be rather proud of that number) for a worldwide debut of $72.2 million.
"With so many variables in play, this movie marketplace from week-to-week is testing the limits of traditional analysis," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE. "With The Suicide Squad, we have yet another example of a film whose performance will, of course, be analyzed in terms of its opening weekend in theaters as balanced against its availability at home and whether that strategy hurt its theatrical earnings potential. Of course, layered on top of all of this are consumer concerns about the pandemic and this has complicated an already confounding and dynamic movie marketplace. While there is no denying that people want to go to the movie theater, applying some sort of definitive conclusion about the state of the industry today is becoming more and more difficult."
Part sequel and part soft reboot of the first movie written and directed by David Ayer, Gunn's R-rated film has been hailed as a much more faithful adaptation of the titular expendable crew sent on dangerous black ops missions in exchange for commuted prison sentences. The film features several returning faces (such as Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, and Jai Courtney), but mostly prefers to focus on a brand-new lineup that includes Bloodsport (Idris Elba), King Shark (Steve Agee for mo-cap work and Sylvester Stallone for the voice), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Peacemaker (John Cena), and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian).
Dropped on the fictional island nation of Corto Maltese, the squad is tasked by Amanda Waller (Davis) with destroying all remnants of a clandestine project known simply as "Project Starfish."
“This is my way to do a war film in a completely different way,” Gunn told SYFY WIRE ahead of the film's release. “People might be expecting it to be like Guardians, [or] they might be expecting it to be like the first Suicide Squad, [or] they might be expecting it to be, like, whatever. But it's not like any of those things... It's just a much more grounded, darker film.”
Disney's Jungle Cruise sunk to second place during its second weekend in North America with an additional $15.7 million for a current domestic haul of $65.3 million. The ride-to-screen adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt is available to stream on Disney+, albeit for a "Premier Access" fee of $29.99. The film also brought in $15.1 million internationally during its sophomore frame for a current worldwide tally of $30.8 million.
Now in its third weekend, Universal Pictures and M. Night Shyamalan's Old surfed into third with $4.1 million domestically. The horror-thriller inspired by the French comic book of the same name now stands at $38.5 million in North America. Thanks to an extra $8.5 million abroad, the movie now has a little over $65 million from ticket sales around the planet.
Also playing in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access Marvel Studios' Black Widow landed in fourth place during its fifth frame via another $4 million. The first Phase 4 outing on the big screen now has $174 million from North American theaters and almost $360 worldwide. The Green Knight lost out on the fifth slot to Focus Features' Stillwater, but still managed to rank sixth with another $2.3 million in its second weekend for a current domestic cume of $12.2 million.
Notable genre holdovers include:
- Space Jam: A New Legacy ($65 million domestically; $134.5 million globally)
- F9 ($171 million domestically; $661 million globally)
- Snake Eyes ($26 million domestically; $33 million globally)
- Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($23 million domestically; a little over $155 million globally)
- A Quiet Place Part II (almost $160 million domestically; nearing $300 million globally)
- The Boss Baby: Family Business ($55 million domestically; $77 million globally
- The Forever Purge ($43 million domestically; $67.9 million globally)
- Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway ($40 million domestically; over $151 million globally)
(Universal Pictures & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal)
Certain financial information via Box Office Mojo