“The Suicide Squad,” DC’s R-rated superhero movie from “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, made $4.1 million in its preview screenings at the box office Thursday night.
Warner Bros. says on Friday the impressive start for “The Suicide Squad” is the highest preview total seen by an R-rated movie so far during the pandemic era. And the total puts it on pace with pre-pandemic release “Birds of Prey,” which also made $4 million in February of 2020 and went on to gross $33 million in its opening weekend.
Warner Bros. is projecting a $30 million opening weekend for “The Suicide Squad,” but analysts say it could be in the low $30 million range or even as high as $40 million.
“The Suicide Squad” is a new take on the DC superhero (or anti-hero) franchise “Suicide Squad” that tried to get off the ground in 2016. The film was a box office success but was panned by critics, audiences and even recently its own director, David Ayer.
But with Gunn taking over the director’s chair and adding new cast such as Idris Elba and John Cena alongside Margot Robbie returning as Harley Quinn, Warner Bros. is hoping the new film can win back both critics and audiences. And the film currently has a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score compared to the 27% score for the original (it has a 75 on Metacritic from 46 critic reviews).
But in addition to the complications of the COVID delta variant throwing into the air whether audiences turn out, “The Suicide Squad” is also be available now on HBO Max the same day it opens in theaters. “Godzilla vs. Kong” earlier this year opened on HBO Max before many theaters were at full capacity, and it made $9.6 million in Wednesday preview screenings and opened to $31.6 million.
“The Suicide Squad” is also a hard R-rated film, full of bloody deaths and raunchy humor that leads analysts to question how it will perform.
Gunn both wrote and directed “The Suicide Squad” about supervillains such as Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and many more oddball DC characters who join the top secret Task Force X and are tasked to do some dirty work that heroes won’t. The film has a staggering cast that’s anchored by Robbie, Elba and Cena but also includes Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, David Dastmalchian, Jai Courtney, Pete Davidson and many more.