Suicide Squad - one of the most hotly-anticipated movies of the summer - is out, and first reactions are mixed. On the one hand, the film's opening weekend looks to be outstanding - by Saturday morning, the film has already grossed a phenomenal $135.1 million at the box office! This makes it officially the third-best domestic opening of any film in 2016 to date, the second best of the summer, and the best opening of Will Smith's career.
This also means Suicide Squad has smashed the box office record for an August opening weekend, knocking Guardians of the Galaxy (and their comparatively modest $94.3 million) off the top spot. The film is well on the way to recouping its $175 million budget - within its first weekend!
I'm already seeing some DC fans claiming these figures as evidence that the film is a success; but personally, I think it's too soon to call that. Here's why!
A Late Review Embargo Always Helps!
You may have noticed that critics only began to air their views a few days before the film was released. There was a reason for that; advance reviewers are dependent on the studios giving them access to the film, and in return for this the critics usually don't publish reviews until the week before the film's about to hit the box office.
When a studio isn't confident in its film, it can issue what's called an 'embargo' - it can set a date, before which the critics aren't allowed to publish their reviews. If you jump the embargo, then you risk getting cut from the studio's future press screenings, which will damage your ability to publish further advance reviews.
Studios do this for a very simple reason. Whatever some fans may like to think, studios know that negative comments about a film will damage the 'buzz' their marketing is trying to make. So an embargo is essentially a form of damage limitation, used when the studio believes it's going to get negative reviews. In the case of Suicide Squad, the embargo was only lifted on Tuesday - after the premiere.
In this case, the reality is that the late embargo has been issued precisely to ensure a strong opening weekend. As we all know, the critical reactions to Suicide Squad haven't exactly been overwhelmingly positive, so it remains to be seen whether or not Suicide Squad will continue to perform well. We saw something similar with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; a strong opening week, supported by a review embargo, then a swift decline in box office performance.
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We're Seeing the Benefit of Suicide Squad's Incredible Marketing!
With that review embargo in place, this first week's performance is more a measure of the marketing for Suicide Squad than it is of the film's quality. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last year, you can't have missed the tremendous marketing for the film - from uniquely creative trailers to absolutely gorgeous posters, and even to a UEFA cup video!
DC has thrown all its marketing and merchandizing might behind Suicide Squad. Even the comics have been affected - DC is in the middle of a tremendous "Rebirth" relaunch, and I'm sure you won't be surprised to various "Suicide Squad" and "Harley Quinn" titles were relaunched last week.
The marketing department has created a buzz around Suicide Squad that I frankly haven't seen for a superhero film since 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. This tremendous marketing success meant that Suicide Squad's first week was always expected to be stellar - and, so far, it hasn't disappointed.
Again, the real test is what happens next. Now the marketing momentum behind Suicide Squad has been compromised by a flood of negative reviews on the internet. Word-of-mouth likewise doesn't seem particularly positive; although the film's garnered generally favorable fan reviews on sites such as MetaCritic, it's hardly shaping up to be the revolutionary superhero film the trailers made us excited for.
The truth is that the Suicide Squad's first week at the box office has been mixed. The marketing strategy has proved tremendously successful, but now the product's out there, it's time to find out how good it really is. The real test is in the second weekend's box office figures.
Have you seen Suicide Squad yet? Be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments- and check out our vid about what the voices in Harley's head think of her outfit!