This summer has certainly been a landmine for blockbuster entertainment. While there have been a number of hits for all ages in animation, as well as several horror movies that did boffo business on a reduced budget, the live-action PG-13 spectacles have mostly struck out with some notable exceptions. It’s for that very reason that a whole industry is watching Suicide Squad go up to the box office plate this weekend while in baited breath.
Suicide Squad is the third film in the DC Extended Universe, and the second one released this year. It follows in the footsteps of March’s Batman v Superman, which grossed $872.66 million worldwide. While that is an impressive number under most circumstances, it was noticeably beneath the billion dollar-mark that so many franchise films now strive for, particularly those like this superhero slugfest which cost $250 million (and that excludes marketing).
Squad is a little bit more conservatively priced at $175 million, according to the studio, however The Hollywood Reporter is already peering into the behind-the-scenes hand-wringing about the summer’s final PG-13 blockbuster release.
According to unnamed sources chatting with the trade, Suicide Squad needs to do comparable business to BvS, despite not having the two biggest superheroes in the world, in order to simply be in the black.
Cited as an industry “veteran” from the day of Squad’s premiere, THR’s source said, “The movie movie’s got to do $750 million, $800 million to break even. If they get anywhere close to that, they’ll consider it a win.”
The trade further discloses that there were two competing edits of the movie, which may account for the disjointed first and wacky pacing noted in our overall positive review. Apparently, after the reception of the film’s first trailer, the studio insisted on getting the same editing house that cut together the said piece of marketing to help offer a competing vision to the one put together by director David Ayer and editor John Gilroy (the latter of whom might have left production before completion). This also led to the now well-publicized reshoots.
A source with knowledge of events says Warners executives, nervous from the start, grew more anxious after they were blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to BvS. “Kevin was really pissed about damage to the brand,” says one executive close to the studio. A key concern for Warners executives was that Suicide Squad didn’t deliver on the fun, edgy tone promised in the strong teaser trailer for the film. So while Ayer pursued his original vision, Warners set about working on a different cut, with an assist from Trailer Park, the company that had made the teaser.
By the time the film was done, multiple editors had been brought into the process, though only John Gilroy is credited. (A source says he left by the end of the process and that the final editor was Michael Tronick.) “When you have big tentpoles and time pressure, you pull in resources from every which way you can,” says this source. “You can’t do it the way it used to be, with one editor and one assistant editor.”
The good news for DC fans is that we do think there is something here to please the faithful, as we stated in our review, which is far warmer than our reception for BvS. Additionally, Suicide Squad is tracking to be a major hit with estimates as high as $140 million for its opening weekend being bandied around. We’ll keep you posted as more becomes apparent about the DCEU event film.