LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - “Suicide Squad” is dominating the U.S. box office, heading for around $147 million in opening weekend ticket sales at 4,255 locations.
The massive opening weekend numbers shatter the previous record for August openings set by “Guardians of the Galaxy” when it earned $94.3 million in 2014. The Warner Bros. tentpole is shaking up a summer of disappointing box office performances with about $65 million in sales as of Saturday morning. Imax screenings contributed about $5.8 million.
The film, directed by David Ayer, has seen a critical thrashing over the past few days, earning it a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it has earned a pretty strong CinemaScore, generating an overall B+ and especially promising A in the under 18 age group.
Based on the DC comic strip, “Suicide Squad” centers around a team of imprisoned antiheroes who are sent to execute dangerous missions. The star-studded cast includes Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, and Cara Delevingne.
Warner Bros. spent $175 million making the movie as part of its efforts to create an interlocking cinematic universe filled with DC superheroes, much like what Disney has achieved with the Marvel characters. Earlier this year the studio opened its DC cinematic universe with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which grossed a mildly disappointing $870 million worldwide after an impressive $166 million opening. The U.S. Critical response was largely negative, generating 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a B CinemaScore.
Fan support has been strong with nearly 4 million followers for the “Suicide Squad” Facebook page. Online ticket seller Fandango reported Tuesday that “Suicide Squad” was the top August pre-seller in the company’s 16-year history, eclipsing “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Rival studios are avoiding opening against “Suicide Squad” except for EuropaCorp’s family comedy “Nine Lives,” starring Kevin Spacey as a kitty cat. The $31 million production should open to around $6 million at 2,264 locations.
Universal’s second weekend of Matt Damon’s “Jason Bourne” will likely bring in about $22 million ― enough to push the action film past $100 million.