Is Suicide Squad a Hit or a Flop? Opening Weekend Numbers Say ‘Hit.’
There’s been a lot of arguing going around about whether or not the DCEU can be considered a success, despite its critical panning. Critics have bemoaned the idea that movies they don’t think are good, like the much-panned Suicide Squad, can be seriously successful, but critics are also the people who gave Sharknado an 86%, certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, apparently ironically.
Additionally, it seems that no matter what the numbers are for the DCEU releases, people keep moving the goalposts. When Batman v Superman didn’t pull an overall gross of a billion dollars, people shouted from the rooftops that it spelled the end of the DCEU. I’ve seen similar talk of Suicide Squad’s record-breaking opening somehow not being enough, too.
So, I thought I would sit down and compare the opening weekend grosses every live-action superhero CBM, aside from Watchmen, to be released in the last sixteen years. I didn’t include Watchmen because it wasn’t part of an overarching series or franchise, making it an anomaly.
I adjusted everything for inflation, the exception being 2016’s releases, because the inflation calculator I used hasn’t been updated to include 2016’s rate of inflation. As such, assume all the numbers are a tiny bit higher, but aside from that, I think the calculations are effective.
Now, here are some facts, per superhero franchise.
THE DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE
So far there are 3 movies in the DCEU, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad. All were poorly received, critically.
But every single one of them has had an opening weekend take of more than $100m. There is not a single other franchise that can claim this. The median number is Suicide Squad’s $133m opening, and when you calculate the mean of the three movies, you get $140m.
Now, let’s move on to the others:
THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Most people compare the DCEU with the MCU, which makes sense on an idea level, I suppose. However, let’s crunch the numbers.
6 of the 13 MCU films break $100m. That’s a little bit less than 50% of the franchise. The MCU also boasts the only CBM in the last 16 years to open with a take of more than $200m, The Avengers — but it also is the franchise with the lowest-grossing opener; that’s Ant-Man, with a comparatively measly $57m.
The average MCU movie, judging by mean, makes about $120m. The median flick is Guardians of the Galaxy — often compared with Suicide Squad based on their reputations as comedies, their release date similarities, and the unfamiliarity of mainstream audiences with most of the characters — and that film garnered $97m.
The middle 50% of MCU movies range from $70m to $110m, which goes to show that the mean number is not always the statistical ‘best fit’ when discussing the ‘average’ take of a movie.
THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY
I’ve included TDK on this list primarily for comparison to the DCEU, because it has the same number of movies (so far, anyway, for the DCEU), and includes the massively critically acclaimed The Dark Knight.
2 of the 3 movies, TDK and TDKR, grossed more than $100m in their opening weekends. The mean pull, however, due to the comparative underperformance of Batman Begins, is $135m, despite both of the other two grossing more than $165m each.
Both of them grossed more, in fact, than any of the DCEU films so far.
SONY’S FIVE SPIDER-MAN FILMS
I condensed the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man trilogy and the two Amazing Spider-Man films together because they were all produced by Sony.
The Raimi Spider-Man movies all grossed more than $100m, but neither ASM movie pulled it off. As such, the mean opening weekend haul for a Spider-Man movie is $120m. The median is Spider-Man 2, with a take of $112m.
And finally, that brings us to my favorite perennial underdogs, the X-Men.
THE X-MEN CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Nine films, and the first superhero movie released in the 21st century, the XMCU was the first franchise to prove that superheroes could make serious money at the box office.
However, only 33% of these movies have pulled in more than $100m on their opening weekends. They also range their middle 50% from $65m to $112m, and the mean number is $83m. The median film was X-Men: Days of Future Past, which raked in $93m on its opening weekend.
Jeez, I didn’t mean to end this section on a downer note, but there it is, the numbers don’t lie.
OVERALL CONCLUSIONS AND STATS
There were 33 superhero movies released in the 21st century (again, not counting movies like Watchmen or Kick-Ass because the first wasn’t a franchise and the second wasn’t based on a comic book).
Some overall fun facts:
- 54% of them made more than $100m on opening weekend.
- The median title was The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with $93m.
- The mean is $112m.
- The middle 50% range is $65m to $167m.
- Before 2008, only one CBM came out per year, with the exception of 2001, in which no superhero movies were released.
The MCU boasts the most single releases to garner more than $100m, but also contains 2 of the lowest ranking openers — on par with the XMCU in that regard. It seems that MCU films do either very well, or in comparison, very badly.
The two DC franchises are consistently the most profitable on the first weekend, based on average means, medians, and proportions of movies breaking the $100m opening weekend mark. In fact, only one DC movie at all got less than $100m its first weekend — as mentioned in the TDK section, that movie was Batman Begins.
Admittedly, the MCU and the XMCU have released significantly more movies, making up the bulk of the list — they’ve had the most opportunities to do badly on opening weekend; however, this means they’ve also had the most opportunities to knock it out of the park.
And the fact remains that the do this with far less consistency, and over longer periods of time. The MCU has had nine years to perfect its formula, and while it is popular and critically acclaimed, it does have some box office issues for certain properties.
NOW, WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR SUICIDE SQUAD?
Suicide Squad did slightly below mean-average for both DC franchises — however, it did better than the mean-average for every Marvel franchise, and significantly above the overall mean. It also scored better than Deadpool, the highest opening gross for the XMCU.
It’s also in the top third of the entire opening gross list — coming it at #10, just above Deadpool and just below Iron Man 2.
Objectively, Suicide Squad did pretty damn well for itself in the financial sector, especially when you take into account that it came out in August, was universally and virulently panned by almost every critic known to man, and it made back just over 3/4s of its budget in that opening weekend.
I don’t think fans of the DCEU have to worry about a thing, because in the end, what sells well is what the studio will continue to produce — and the DCEU has been selling very well.
And as for the critics? Well, everybody’s got an opinion, and is entitled to it.
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