Suicide Squad will take the box office by storm this coming weekend with a massive run of about 4,200 theaters, with 380 in Imax and 400 more in large-format screens, positioning itself to become the biggest August opener in history. The Warner Bros film is expected to surpass current crown holder (and one of its comp films) Guardians of The Galaxy which scored a $94.3M opening weekend in 2014. Guardians was is 100 fewer theaters.
Just as Guardians did for Disney, Suicide Squad is on the verge of catapulting a new franchise. How high will its debut go? Tracking has it at $130M-$140M, but we believe it will be on the high side of that and quite possibly more than $140M. The film bows 6 PM in Thursday previews and drops day and date Friday in the U.S. and overseas in 57 countries.
Domestically right now in advanced ticket sales, Suicide Squad is blowing the roof off as Fandango reports it’s the biggest pre-sale for any August title in the company’s 16-year history (meaning above Guardians) — and it still has two days to go. The film written and directed by David Ayer and starring Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and Will Smith, is expected to surpass another of its comp films, the R-rated Deadpool, which opened to $132.4M. In February. Deadpool holds the record for Top R-rated opener. Suicide Squad is opening in about 350 more theaters than Deadpool. In the summer.
Suicide Squad is also rated PG-13, which opens the film to a wider audience and at a time when its core demo is out of school. The film is tracking well in all quads but shows lighter interest from older females right now, which could speak to the darkness of the film.
At the moment, it’s tracking not unlike Deadpool with most age/gender groups, only with higher interest coming from younger females than Deadpool enjoyed. The question is truly going to be how the film does in its second weekend as word around town is that it might fall quickly. Reviews should be kicking in over the next two days and that will be telling.
Gotta give props to strong creative marketing materials from a studio looking at this film as a new franchise opener; the distribution date was well-chosen as it gives the film quite a bit of running room. Releasing the film in August boded well in the past for both Guardians and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it was Disney opening Guardians on August 1, 2014 that proved you can do gangbuster business with a high-quality picture in what is technically known as the dog days of summer.
Also important to note that mid-weeks on Suicide Squad going forward should be strong give that kids really don’t start going back to school until later in August.
Internationally, Suicide Squad is launching in 57 markets,including France, Korea, Australia, Russia, Brazil, the UK, Spain and Mexico (France and Korea are first on Wednesday). That’s about 70% of the international footprint. Imax will have 255 screens in 54 markets. Industry sources are placing the Squad between Guardians Of The Galaxy, which opened to $67.4M in 42 international markets on essentially the same weekend in 2014, and Deadpool, which bowed to $132.1M in 61 this past February. Finding a precise range is tough given the differences in the release patterns and ratings — and that Deadpool was such a particular phenomenon. Sources have Suicide Squad anywhere from $85M-$120M this weekend, although more cautious predictions top out at $110M. On both comp films, the UK was the top offshore market (excluding China for GOTG) while Russia was also a huge play for GOTG. Word on the ground is that Suicide Squad is expected to perform strongly in both markets.
Despite Suicide Squad being a lesser-known property (much the same way that Guardians was in 2014), the stars here are better known internationally, particularly Smith. Marketing materials in the UK, where the premiere is tomorrow night, have hewn closely to the U.S. campaign and have also emphasized Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn while Robbie’s overseas profile overall has been increasing.
There is another film readying domestically as well. With family films The Secret Life Of Pets going into its fifth week and Finding Dory in its seventh, EuropaCorp is looking to give the youngsters and their parents a worthwhile option with the Kevin Spacey- and Jennifer Garner-starring Nine Lives. The high-concept film is about a businessman who is bewitched into a cat’s body and destined to live the life of a furry feline unless he can reconnect with his family. It opens at 6 PM in previews on Thursday.
Since everything else has played out in the family film genre, Nine Lives could scratch in $9M-$10M for the three-day weekend. It’s also debuting in a smattering of international markets with France being the biggest territory.
So where does that leave the second weekends of films like Jason Bourne, Bad Moms and Nerve? When a monster pic like Suicide Squad enters the marketplace, it sucks out the core demo audience of Bourne and Nerve, but studios have their fingers crossed hoping it could end up being the tide that helps lifts all boats. Sometimes that does happen, but we think Bourne and Nerve will get jolted. As it stands now, Bad Moms grossed $2.9 million yesterday, which is what Bridemaids made on its first Monday after its debut weekend. That film grossed $26.2M in its first weekend in May of 2011, and ended its domestic run at $169.1M.