James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad premiered Friday with $12 million at the North American box office.
By way of comparison, 2016’s Suicide Squad opened with $64 million.
That’s a MASSIVE decline and while COVID wasn’t an issue in 2016, neither was WarnerMedia’s streaming platform, HBOMax.
This is what happens when a company is willing to sacrifice a studio to build a streaming service that they don’t need in the first place (Sony, which doesn’t have one, recently entered into a deal with Netflix, which earns them millions without having to pay the (potentially) billions necessary to build out a streaming service).
Somewhat surprisingly by my reckoning, The Walt Disney Company was the first to be sued.
Scarlett Johansson is doing so over lost profits due to the release of Black Widow (2021) simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access for $29.99 (it’s surprising because Disney’s strategy mimics that of WarnerMedia and HBOMax, which they’ve pursued aggressively, though not without dissension and as of yet, lawsuits).
Black Widow (2021) earned over $171 million at the domestic box office and $348 million worldwide. That’s a lot of money, till you take into account that with a production budget somewhere in the ballpark of $200 million it’s not enough to wring out a profit.
I recall reading somewhere that the movie earned $50 million via Disney+ but the problem is – even if that figure were accurate – it doesn’t make it profitable (typically you’re looking at three times the production cost to break even, never mind making a profit). Tentpoles like The Suicide Squad, Black Widow or Wonder Woman 1984 oftentimes have promotional costs as large as their budgets, which means more often than not producers are being screwed over by these deals to release first-run movies over streaming services.