Weekend Box Office Takes on ‘The Suicide Squad’ and Delta Variant

This weekend’s release of The Suicide Squad comes five years and one pandemic since Warner Bros. Pictures released the original Suicide Squad movie.

The standalone sequel also is the latest DC Extended Universe theatrical release since Wonder Woman 84 opened on Christmas Day 2020.

The Suicide Squad, which opens Aug. 6 in theaters and on HBO Max, features a mostly new ensemble cast of anti-superheroes; a new director, James Gunn; and scant holdovers (Margot Robbie as anti-villainess  Harley Quinn, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag) from the original.

Gunn enjoyed commercial and critical success with Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise; thus, social media buzz for The Suicide Squad bow has been high. But August brings with it rising concerns about the Delta variant, which has seen surges in COVID infections and hospitalizations in parts of the country — especially among unvaccinated populations.

Suicide Squad in 2016 debuted to a record August opening box office of $134 million, and ultimately generated global ticket sales of $746.8 million.

But with moviegoers still apprehensive about the pandemic, and The Suicide Squad streaming for free to Max subs, this opening weekend’s box office numbers could generate a fraction ($30 million) of the original, according to industry projections.

An Aug. 1 consumer survey from the National Research Group found 11% fewer respondents than in July (81%) willing to frequent movie theaters due to Delta concerns. Last month, several key counties in the major box office market of California — including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento — reinstituted mandatory masks for indoor activities.

As a result, the domestic weekend box office is expected to generate nearly 20% fewer ticket sales than last weekend’s $75 million, which was driven by Disney’s Jungle Cruise. The Walt Disney Studios release is projected to generate less than $15 million in its second weekend of release, followed by Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow ($3.9 million), Universal Pictures’ Old ($3.8 million), Warner’s Space Jam: A New Legacy ($2.6 million), A24’s The Green Knight ($2.5 million), Focus Features’ Stillwater ($2.4 million), Paramount Pictures’ Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins ($1.8 million), Sony Pictures’ Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($1.3 million) and Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga with $1.2 million.

F9 is also available in consumer homes on PVOD for $19.99, while Black Widow can be purchased for $29.99 until Oct. 6.

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