Monday August 08, 2016
Box Office: 'Suicide Squad' Blasts Through Negative Reviews to Gross $135 Million
Last laugh? Maybe not.
“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%|
|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%|
|4||Avengers: Age of Ultron||$191,271,109||75%||41.7%|
|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.