The Suicide Squad, Mortal Kombat, Samba TV, Hbo Max

Much has been made about the lower than expected opening weekend of THE SUICIDE SQUAD, which debuted at number one with a gross of $26.3 million. This was a bit below the $30 million the film was tracking at heading into the weekend and many have speculated its simultaneous release on HBO Max had something to do with its muted debut. While WarnerMedia hasn’t released hard figures for how the film did on the platform, Samba TV is giving us some of the picture and its viewership over the weekend was a bit lower than another R-rated Warner Bros. film that followed the same release strategy.

Per Samba TV, The Suicide Squad was viewed in 2.8 million households over the film’s Friday-Sunday frame. The good news is that this is the highest weekend ever for a DC release on the streamer as it bested Zack Snyder’s Justice League (1.8 million households over four days) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2.2 million households over Christmas weekend). The film trailed behind the R-rated Mortal Kombat which is still the biggest release for HBO Max during this day-and-date theatrical release strategy with 3.8 million households during its opening weekend. In homes that Samba TV monitors, The Suicide Squad was 26% behind the views for the video game adaptation. If we’re playing devil’s advocate, it should be noted that Mortal Kombat was released in April when fewer movie theaters were open and some still faced capacity limits. This could indicate why the film did as well as it did on HBO Max.

Friday had the largest number of first-time viewers with 949,000 watching the film for at least five minutes. Saturday had the largest number of first-time and repeat viewers at 1.2 million households tuning in. Remember, Samba TV only gathers viewership data from 3 million households via its proprietary content recognition technology on opted Smart TVs so this data isn’t the full story. However, with streaming services typically not revealing their viewership numbers, Samba TV has become a pretty decent barometer for how these films are performing on the various streaming services. HBO Max chief Andy Forssell said Sunday that the movie became the second-most viewed film over an opening weekend on the streamer since it began showing movies in theaters and the streamer simultaneously but without them releasing solid figures, we only have his word to go on in regards to that.

It’s hard to tell what the measure of success is for The Suicide Squad. The film is releasing during a pandemic when the Delta Variant is starting to see a surge, it’s also available on a streaming service for no extra cost if you’re a monthly subscriber, and it’s a pretty niche tentpole release that could have issues connecting outside of its fanbase. The DC film carries a hefty $185 million budget, which doesn’t even include what was spent on marketing. The movie grossed $35 million overseas this weekend, bringing its international total to $45.7 million in 69 markets.  The global weekend gross is a hair below the $36.6 million overseas opening of Birds of Prey, which did have the benefit of hitting screens right before the world locked down. I mention all this to say whether it’s pure box office or money made from streaming, it has a long way to go to recoup its budget and that’s a gross it definitely won’t see stateside.

What are YOUR thoughts on how well The Suicide Squad did on HBO Max? Did its streaming debut hurt its theatrical box office over the weekend?

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