In other non-Jungle Cruise opening weekend news, Warner Bros. opened The Suicide Squad “early” in five markets, namely the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Turkey. The incredibly well-reviewed (96% fresh and 7.9/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) James Gunn-directed DC Films supervillain sequel earned $7 million in 2,409 theaters.
It bested the opening of Jungle Cruise in the UK by 47% and was around 24% higher than the debuts for Dark Phoenix and Birds of Prey. However, those films’ respective $33 million domestic debuts and eventual $200 million-plus global totals were seen as genuine disappointments, so that’s only impressive on a Covid curve. Back in 2016, it was the first Suicide Squad that pulled summer 2016 out of a two-month slump.
Following months of “nobody asked for this” franchise extensions (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Independence Day: Resurgence, etc.) and disappointing follow-ups to previously successful franchises (TMNT: Out of the Shadows, X-Men: Apocalypse, Star Trek Beyond, etc.), the critically-panned Suicide Squad nonetheless opened with $133 million domestic and legged out (even after a 67% second-weekend drop) to $325 million domestic (just $5 million behind Batman v Superman) and $745 million worldwide (without China).
Credit the “last biggie of summer” legs as well as the notion that it featured cameos from Batman and the Joker, the first live-action cinematic appearance of Harley Quinn and was above-all-else a Will Smith-star vehicle amid a known franchise. This time out, even with rave reviews, it’s the second Suicide Squad movie, with the third appearance of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and will have to survive without Batman, Joker and Will Smith.
In normal times, The Suicide Squad was a commercial coin toss, and Covid circumstances won’t help. Can The Suicide Squad save the summer for a second time in five years? Tune in next weekend, but if not then a potential underperformance may say as little about Covid-era moviegoing as did the expected underperformances (in relation to budget and pre-Covid franchise-driven hopes) of Space Jam: A New Legacy and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. It’ll open in 64 global markets next weekend.
A24’s The Green Knight was sold as and somewhat embraced (thus far) as the art house/film nerd movie event of the summer. Another Covid casualty, this one was supposed to open last year during the SXSW festival. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the David Lowery-directed and Dev Patel-starring adaptation of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” debuted with a rock-solid $6.784 million in 2,790 theaters this weekend.
For a movie like this, a deeply artsy-fartsy (that’s not a criticism) tone poem sold as a more conventional action-adventure fantasy with expectedly rave reviews released in the middle of a pandemic, that’s absolutely a win. Heck, I’m sure A24 is about to levy financial penalties against David Lowery for producing a film that earned a C+ Cinemascore grade. That’s well outside the expected D+ to F range, as A24 has a reputation to maintain dammit!
The (justifiably) acclaimed hero’s journey deconstruction will likely be a bit frontloaded. Credit the possible nerd want to-see factors and the fact that, yeah, it’s not a conventionally mainstream flick. Nonetheless, The Green Knight just scored A24’s fourth-biggest opening ever behind The Witch ($8.8 million in early 2016), the wide release debut of Uncut Gems ($9.4 million in late 2019) and Hereditary ($13.5 million in summer 2018).
Hereditary earned a D+ from Cinemascore, which led to lots of “Cinema is doomed!” handwringing only for the film to earn a stellar 3.25x multiplier for a $44 million domestic cume. Horror almost always polls poorly in Cinemascore (save for crowd-pleasers with happy endings), but The Green Knight polling at the level of the inexplicably crowdpleasing Misdommar (which tapped out with $27 million) is encouraging.
We’re dealing with a future cult-classic that cost $15 million and will likely break out in post-theatrical since plenty of folks wanted to see it in theaters but couldn’t (the UK release was canceled at the last minute due to Covid) or don’t feel comfortable doing so. A24 will presumably (?) put this title on PVOD about as quickly as they did with Zola earlier this month.
If you can/are willing to see this in a theater, I’d recommend doing so. But otherwise, I cannot judge if you lie back in a beanbag chair, put on your headphones, turn off the lights and sit way too close to your HDTV. This isn’t a “Moviegoing is saved”-level launch, but it is a sign that there’s still a theatrical home for more than just preordained IP franchise hits.