erik lundegaard

Box Office: 'Suicide Squad' Blasts Through Negative Reviews to Gross $135 Million

 Suicide Squad: Harley Quinn

Last laugh? Maybe not.

*Sigh.*

“Suicide Squad” was so universally panned that fanboys wanted to shut down the Rotten Tomatoes site, where its shame, its 26% rating, was visible for all to see. But the American moviegoer, or at least those fanboys, still came out in droves. The David Ayer-directed supervillain slash-em-up/blow-em-away grossed $135 million domestically (and $132 abroad), which, if it holds, is our 19th-biggest opener ever.

So the critics lose again, right? Haw haw on us?

Yes and no. 

As I was pondering “Suicide”'s numbers, I casually wondered whether any movie that had grossed more on opening weekend had a lower RT rating. Yes, it turns out: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” which grossed $138 million domestically during its Nov. 2011 opening weekend despite a 24% rating. 

As I was putting together this info, I also noticed something that should be obvious to everyone by now: Blockbusters with low RT ratings tend to have shorter legs than blockbusters with high RT ratings. 

Here's a chart of the 20 highest-grossing openers of all time (sans “Suicide”) sorted by their Rotten Tomatoes rating:

Rnk  Movie Opening $$ RT% Open % 
7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $169,189,427 96% 44.4%
10 The Dark Knight $158,411,483 94% 29.7%
20 Finding Dory $135,060,273 94% 28.5%
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $247,966,675 92% 26.5%
3 Marvel's The Avengers $207,438,708 92% 33.3%
5 Captain America: Civil War $179,139,142 90% 44.0%
11 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire $158,074,286 89% 37.2%
9 The Dark Knight Rises $160,887,295 87% 35.9%
12 The Hunger Games $152,535,747 84% 37.4%
6 Iron Man 3 $174,144,585 79% 42.6%
14 Furious 7 $147,187,040 79% 41.7%
4 Avengers: Age of Ultron $191,271,109 75% 41.7%
2 Jurassic World $208,806,270 71% 32.0%
13 Spider-Man 3 $151,116,516 63%* 44.9%
18 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $135,634,554 54% 32.0%
16 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 $141,067,634 49% 48.3%
15 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $142,839,137 28% 48.2%
8 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $166,007,347 27% 50.3%
17 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $138,122,261 24% 49.1%

* Yeah, I can't believe “Spider-Man 3” got a fresh rating, either.

That last column is the percentage a movie's opening gross contributed to its overall gross. You want a low number there; it means your movie lasted. It didn't nova and then die. And generally, the lower the RT rating, the higher that percentage.

A fresh blockbuster (> 60%) makes an average of 37% of its total gross during its opening weekend; a rotten one, 45.5%. The extremes are even more extreme. A blockbuster in the 90s makes about one-third of its total gross in the first three days; a blockbuster in the 20s like “Suicide Squad”? Half. They make noise for three days, then crickets. 

Here are two recent examples. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the biggest opener ever: $247 million. But it got great reviews, great word-of-mouth, and grossed nearly four times that: $936 million. “Batman v Superman” is the eighth-biggest opener ever: $166 million. But it got shitty reviews, shittier word of mouth, and grossed just twice that: $330.

If “Star Wars” had grossed just twice its opening, it would've stopped shy of half a billion rather than bumping up against a billion. The difference between a good and bad blockbuster can be half a billion dollars. And that's just domestically. 

So for “Suicide” and its shitty 26% rating, I expect to see a big dropoff next weekend, and a total domestic gross of around $270 million. Which ain't victory for critics; but it ain't exactly victory for Warner Bros. either. 

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Posted at 05:39 AM on Mon. Aug 08, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office  

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