Weekend Box Office

Weekend Box Office Results: The Suicide Squad Opens with $26.5 Million As Industry Considers Impact of Streaming and Variants

It was a less than explosive start for James Gunn's critically acclaimed gore-fest, but why? Plus: Jungle Cruise races to $100 million and Old likely to avoid an unwanted record.

by | August 8, 2021 | Comments

As we approach the end of this experimental summer movie season and look ahead through 2021, this weekend was truly the last chance for Warner Brothers to prove that their hybrid HBO Max was not going to be a total bust. (Everyone should know that Dune has a very specialized audience, and, okay, maybe fans have shrugged off whatever beefs they have with the Matrix sequels to give the fourth one a shot.) It is conceivably possible that Godzilla vs. Kong is going to be the only film on the studio’s slate to hit what is shaping up to be a very exclusive $100 million club this year. This weekend was the studio’s best shot at a second slot in that club and as the dust settles it’s starting to look like no film was probably held back more from its potential this summer than James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.

King of the Crop: The Suicide Squad Tops Weekend, But Subdued Performance Raises Questions

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

The spin began as early as Friday when the $4.1 million that The Suicide Squad grossed in Thursday night previews was touted as the best “R”-rated start for a film during the pandemic. The problem is that it is hard to measure that kind of championship when the only other “no one under 17 will be admitted with a guardian (of another galaxy or otherwise)” films to get previews in 2021 were The Forever Purge ($1.3 million) and The Green Knight ($750,000). So that title is not super impressive. However, there was still hope given that a number of other films including 2009’s Star Trek, Captain America: The First Avenger, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and The Wolverine all started with $4 million in previews and went on to opening weekends between $53 million and $75 million. (Granted those were non-pandemic/non-new-variant times.) But even those on the low spectrum of those Thursday numbers, including last year’s pre-pandemic Birds of Prey, opened to $33 million. The Suicide Squad did not even hit that.

So $26.5 million is the number the film is looking at for its opening weekend. That is the best “R”-rated opening of the pandemic, barely edging out The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ($24.1 million) and Mortal Kombat ($23.3 million), the latter from way back in April when we were still right in the middle of steady vaccination numbers. (The top Thursday previews for an “R”-rated film is still Deadpool 2, which made nearly as much in just a third of a day – $18.6 million – as The Suicide Squad made in an additional three full ones.)

So where does the lion’s share of the blame for the movie’s underperformance go? Don’t blame the critics. They are mostly in lockstep recommending the film (Certified Fresh at 92% on the Tomatometer) compared to how much they disliked the 2006 version (Rotten at 26%). Are moviegoers showing their concern over the rising numbers among the unvaccinated due to the Delta variant? And did an option to subscribe to HBO Max make their decision easier? How did The Suicide Squad manage to do $9 million less than Black Widow on its Thursday launch? Is it because HBO Max decided to offer the DC film on Thursday night while Disney+ held back their $29.99 Premier Access option until Friday?

So is HBO Max entirely to blame? Giving 100% culpability to any single entity would be foolish. Quality matters, even if the calculations of word-of-mouth have been redefined this year. Interest matters. The pandemic matters. While we can probably expect another strongly-worded “I told you so” from the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) this week, the numbers do not lie. Streaming or not, since the end of June, when F9 opened, only two films have grossed more than 2.5 times its opening weekend: The Boss Baby: Family Business (3.42x), which was also streaming for free on Peacock, and The Forever Purge (3.47x), which was exclusively in theaters. Here is a breakdown of the rest.


  • F9 (2.43 / 7 weeks)
  • Old (2.27 / 3 weeks)
  • Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (1.94 / 3 weeks)
  • Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2.51 / 4 weeks)
  • The Green Knight (1.77 / 2 weeks)
  • Stillwater (1.92 / 2 weeks)


  • Black Widow (2.16 / 5 weeks)
  • Jungle Cruise (1.86 / 2 weeks)


  • Mortal Kombat (1.81)
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead (2.59)
  • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2.70)
  • In the Heights (2.58)
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy (2.08 / 4 weeks)

But let’s not let the HBO Max decision off the hook either. Repeat business seems to be at a stand still until we get a true all-clear on COVID and Delta, and streaming only doubles down on that. So the opening weekend is more crucial than ever before. The Suicide Squad is just the seventh film during this time to start with over $25 million, joining HBO Max compatriots Godzilla vs. Kong and Space Jam: A New Legacy. The former stretched its legs through a still-wide open marketplace while vaccine hope was at its peak; the latter dropped like a stone and may end up with the worst multiple for a family film this year.

We could just drop all the variables and statistics and know that in our hearts, Gunn’s film goes nowhere south of $60 million in normal times. And that is as conservative as it gets. The top “R”-rated opening in August is still Straight Outta Compton, with $60.2 million, so it’s hard to even suggest that a high-profile DC film whose almost universally-maligned “PG-13” effort is the highest opening weekend ever in August with $133.68 million wouldn’t make $70 million or more. Not when both Deadpools opened to over $125 million, Joker to over $96 million, and Logan with $88.4 million.

The only thing we know for sure is that this year, in our current circumstances, The Suicide Squad will not be joining the $100 million club and the odds are very much in favor that nothing from the rest of Warner Brothers’ lineup for 2021 will be invited in either.

The Top Ten And Beyond: Jungle Cruise Sailing Towards $100 Million 

Last week’s no. 1 film is showing some potential to eventually join the $100 million club. Jungle Cruise fell 55% to $15.7 million this weekend. In this environment that actually constitutes a victory given that it is the lowest drop for a no. 1 film in its second weekend since Spiral fell 47.5% from a meager start of $8.7 million. That puts Jungle’s 10-day toll at $65 million, which is ahead of Godzilla vs. Kong’s $60.05 million at 10 days, though with that film’s Wednesday opening it only had four weekend days to accumulate that total compared to Jungle’s six. Nevertheless, it is still a better second weekend than GvK’s $13.88 million, so we’ll give Jungle Cruise a puncher’s chance of breaking that ceiling.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Old fell back just a single spot for the third straight week. It is right in line with The Forever Purge’s third weekend of $4.1 million. Overall, it is still ahead of that film’s pace by almost $3 million, so look for Old’s final tally to be in the range of $45 million, just getting over Lady in the Water’s total and avoiding being the lowest-grossing film of Shyamalan’s post-Sixth Sense career. Black Widow dropped to fourth place with $4 million, which is the third-best fifth weekend this year behind A Quiet Place Part II ($6.19 million) and F9 ($4.82 million). Still, it did pass F9 this week and now certainly has a lock to claim the crown of summer champion, not to mention fairly decent odds to compete for the highest-grossing film of the year, with possibly No Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home as its biggest challengers.

Green Knight

(Photo by © A24)

Amongst last weekend’s adult entries, Stillwater dropped 45% to $2.86 million and stands total at $10 million. It looks like Focus Features, which has put every one of its 13 films into theaters since Kajillionaire last September, is going to have its highest-grossing film of the pandemic – but just its second to pass $10 million and one which is unlikely to hit $15 million. The Green Knight is just A24’s third theatrical release during this time and their numbers have actually gone up. From Oscar nominee Minari ($3.1 million) to Zola ($4.1 million) and now to David Lowery’s film (the first in the company’s history to start in third place), which has earned $12 million so far.

On The Vine: A Background Player and the Queen of Soul

Things get a little more crowded in theaters next week. Delayed multiple times since last year, audiences can finally see Ryan Reynolds as a video game character trying to escape in Free Guy (which critics are digging). More folks are trying to rob Stephen Lang’s abusive blind guy in Don’t Breathe 2, and Jennifer Hudson takes on the role of Aretha Franklin in the biopic, Respect. All three films will be exclusive to theaters.

Full List of Box Office Results: August 6-8, 2021

  • $26.5 million ($26.5 million total)

  • $15.69 million ($65.32 million total)

  • $4.14 million ($38.52 million total)

  • $4.01 million ($174.36 million total)

  • $2.86 million ($10 million total)

  • $2.6 million ($12.17 million total)

  • $2.48 million ($65.74 million total)

  • $1.63 million ($26 million total)

  • $1.25 million ($23.04 million total)

  • $1.23 ($171.03 million total)

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

IFC FX romantic comedy comic slashers kids gangster italian Lionsgate blaxploitation Endgame french south america rt archives critic resources IFC Films book adaptation sequels sopranos crossover feel good tv talk anthology Discovery Channel The Academy pirates of the caribbean Marvel Studios FOX Comic-Con@Home 2021 Rocketman cops Travel Channel Tubi DC Universe Columbia Pictures dreamworks social media TLC Walt Disney Pictures ghosts mcc justice league child's play Disney+ Disney Plus superhero Black Mirror lord of the rings discovery Paramount Plus IMDb TV kaiju Sundance TV 24 frames TCA Classic Film Apple TV+ olympics concert biography joker Pop TV video on demand crime Academy Awards canceled TV shows robots boxing romance Universal Fox News Turner cinemax Neflix DC Comics Western festivals target comic book movies toy story rt labs critics edition Summer Awards Tour Film Festival First Reviews finale BET theme song revenge Fox Searchlight Cartoon Network Amazon Studios sag awards Rom-Com Family SDCC Food Network Ghostbusters VICE hollywood stop motion talk show dc 90s book USA Network Winners nfl Logo halloween Hulu Creative Arts Emmys Vudu Star Trek dark Freeform science fiction Anna Paquin Super Bowl Television Critics Association asian-american football Biopics indiana jones Chilling Adventures of Sabrina transformers aapi obituary stoner Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt MCU political drama YouTube Red Apple TV Plus series AMC E! king kong godzilla Pet Sematary sports cooking Pop superman Video Games Trailer zombies NYCC Pride Month Instagram Live serial killer heist movie independent parents FXX Infographic Musicals 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards DC streaming service LGBTQ streaming HBO Go crime drama Hallmark OneApp razzies NBA genre saw Amazon Mindy Kaling hispanic Polls and Games critics Awards marvel cinematic universe Podcast award winner quibi Calendar Superheroes 2019 GLAAD BET Awards mutant jurassic park Heroines telelvision rt labs Comics on TV Mary poppins 2015 DGA 99% VOD Sundance Now Cosplay high school latino miniseries werewolf New York Comic Con Women's History Month true crime Star Wars scorecard reviews TBS twilight canceled technology Winter TV Sneak Peek richard e. Grant RT21 TV One CBS Tokyo Olympics toronto films Disney streaming service The Walking Dead witnail 4/20 Britbox slasher Emmy Nominations The Arrangement cancelled television Peacock Arrowverse Music natural history stand-up comedy Ellie Kemper mob TCA 2017 name the review Cannes historical drama nature green book game show Grammys reboot fast and furious YA Marvel Syfy OWN Election Set visit History disaster Quiz Writers Guild of America sitcom supernatural cults Lifetime Christmas movies HBO Max SundanceTV hist Binge Guide First Look The Walt Disney Company black comics jamie lee curtis casting Paramount Network Image Comics Pixar TruTV Reality Competition Bravo emmy awards dexter Disney Channel MSNBC Oscars biopic cancelled indie basketball Song of Ice and Fire Valentine's Day Film Holidays versus Fall TV new star wars movies Marvel Television dragons streaming movies CMT 1990s screenings 2020 doctor who Certified Fresh a nightmare on elm street Action marvel comics Tomatazos TNT CBS All Access zero dark thirty wonder woman spain Hallmark Christmas movies art house monster movies comedies ABC Family PlayStation young adult 2018 cars psycho CNN documentary classics zombie television BBC Opinion Comedy Animation Turner Classic Movies elevated horror Premiere Dates children's TV TV movies Pacific Islander rom-coms cancelled TV series rotten movies we love scary movies Extras 73rd Emmy Awards Black History Month TV renewals laika cancelled TV shows posters Stephen King Pirates Comic Book Crackle 71st Emmy Awards king arthur 45 satire TCA Winter 2020 Crunchyroll Teen cartoon Photos best teaser scene in color Disney Plus 2017 Sony Pictures chucky ratings Country Captain marvel Holiday TCM YouTube Premium Hear Us Out documentaries ESPN 21st Century Fox The Purge GIFs die hard AMC Plus spider-verse japanese Amazon Prime 2021 criterion Mudbound composers new york Reality Tarantino worst movies Baby Yoda Lucasfilm comic books christmas movies royal family japan See It Skip It Spectrum Originals period drama anime Interview spanish language Television Academy Netflix Christmas movies 20th Century Fox prank directors Watching Series hidden camera YouTube batman Alien Mystery scary Spike crime thriller spanish X-Men game of thrones Exclusive Video WGN cats San Diego Comic-Con Musical Character Guide ABC Signature police drama Comedy Central international all-time Showtime DirecTV Rocky Elton John USA politics trailers VH1 Dark Horse Comics Chernobyl Trivia Broadway CW Seed Horror Universal Pictures australia comiccon blockbusters Netflix spy thriller suspense NBC Disney RT History BAFTA war FX on Hulu Marathons Red Carpet TV comic book movie A24 Spring TV spider-man docudrama rotten Mary Tyler Moore foreign Kids & Family vs. GoT BBC One Rock National Geographic ViacomCBS Legendary adaptation The Witch venice fresh Funimation Nominations Year in Review archives dogs Tumblr TIFF Christmas vampires worst Shondaland based on movie mockumentary golden globe awards unscripted Martial Arts Thanksgiving Fantasy APB action-comedy American Society of Cinematographers adenture Emmys LGBT ITV hispanic heritage month screen actors guild WarnerMedia boxoffice 72 Emmy Awards singing competition facebook PaleyFest 007 MTV kong diversity renewed TV shows medical drama HBO women thriller Acorn TV legend Countdown SXSW Epix aliens BBC America 2016 universal monsters spinoff live action Nickelodeon travel Lifetime ID blockbuster adventure TCA Awards Mary Poppins Returns Warner Bros. know your critic psychological thriller binge Paramount nbcuniversal popular ABC festival strong female leads Adult Swim Brie Larson movies Nat Geo black comedy Apple Drama Box Office TV Land docuseries A&E mission: impossible Sci-Fi 93rd Oscars deadpool debate harry potter video new zealand El Rey what to watch dceu sequel Superheroe Schedule Avengers Best and Worst franchise Wes Anderson breaking bad Masterpiece live event Sundance Shudder james bond halloween tv The CW Amazon Prime Video remakes dramedy President movie space Starz Esquire Trophy Talk news PBS animated free movies golden globes Toys Ovation E3