September 24-26 Box Office Predictions

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks to make it a clean sweep at #1 for the month of September this weekend. The only competitor standing in its way is Dear Evan Hansen, the adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Dear Evan Hansen Box Office Prediction

The fact that Hansen is garnering mixed reviews has me questioning whether it reaches double digits. I’m guessing no and that should put it in the runner-up position behind Rings, which may only drop in the low 30s.

Holdovers will populate the rest of the five as we await some potential October behemoths starting with Venom: Let There Be Carnage and continuing with No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, and Dune.

Until then, expect a rather quiet end to this month at multiplexes. Here’s how I envision the top five:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

2. Dear Evan Hansen

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

3. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

4. Cry Macho

Predicted Gross: $2.8 million

5. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

Box Office Results (September 17-19)

Shang-Chi steamrolled the rest of the weak competition in its third frame with $21.6 million. That’s just above my $20.1 million projection as the MCU juggernaut has amassed $176 million thus far with $200 million easily in its sights.

Free Guy dipped a scant 9% for second place in its sixth weekend with $5 million (I said $4.2 million). It has crossed the nine digit mark at $108 million.

The weekend’s top newcomer was Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho with a ho-hum $4.4 million compared to my more generous $6.4 million estimate. Perhaps its intended older demographic opted to view it on HBO Max or, with its mixed reviews, not at all.

Candyman was fourth with $3.5 million, holding up better than my $2.6 million take. Total is $53 million.

Keeping with the horror theme, Malignant dropped 50% in its sophomore weekend with $2.7 million. That’s decent for its genre and it’s generated plenty of chatter (good and bad) that might have assisted in a curiosity factor. In two weeks, it’s made $9 million. I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

That’s because Gerard Butler’s latest action thriller Copshop (despite a decent critical response) tanked with only $2.3 million in sixth. I went with $4.5 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

September 17-19 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Note (09/16): I am revising my prediction for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. It appears to be in more of a limited release than I anticipated so my estimate goes from $3.4 million to $1.7M. That puts it outside of the top five and allows Candyman the five spot.

A trio of newcomers are out Friday, but none stand much of a chance at dethroning Marvel’s sizzling Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. We have Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, Gerard Butler’s action thriller Copshop, and the Jessica Chastain led biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

Cry Macho Box Office Prediction

Copshop Box Office Prediction

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Box Office Prediction

I’m not projecting any of the newbies will hit double digits, but I’ll say Eastwood’s latest comes closest. I’m hedging a bit since Macho will stream on HBO Max. However, it should make enough to overshadow Copshop (though Butler has over performed in the past).

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a tricky one since there’s no screen count available at press time. The pic is garnering Oscar buzz for Chastain. My estimate could fluctuate. For now, I have it in a battle with Free Guy for the four spot.

As mentioned, Shang-Chi should have no issue making it three weeks on top. A low 40s drop might put it just over $20 million.

And with that, my take on the top 5:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $20.1 million

2. Cry Macho

Predicted Gross: $6.4 million

3. Copshop

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

4. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

5. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $2.6 million

Box Office Results (September 10-12)

It was a glorious weekend for Shang-Chi as it achieved the best sophomore frame of any feature during COVID. The MCU blockbuster took in $34.7 million, a tad below my $36.4 million prediction. The ten-day is up to an impressive $144 million. While Rings fell short of Black Widow‘s pandemic era best start, it held up considerably better for the follow-up.

Free Guy was second with $5.5 million as it crossed the century mark at $101 million. My projection? $5.5 million!

Despite plenty of internet chatter over the weekend due to its wild twists, James Wan’s horror flick Malignant stalled with audiences (though many may view it on HBO Max). It was third at $5.4 million, falling under my $7.6 million take.

Candyman held the four spot at $4.7 million (I said $5.1 million) as its made $47 million.

Jungle Cruise rounded out the top five with $2.3 million (I was right there at $2.4 million) and it sails in with $109 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

September 10-12 Box Office Predictions

In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: I was way off! I’m speaking of the marvelous performance of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which smashed the Labor Day weekend all-time record. We’ll get to that in a second. The major release this weekend is James Wan’s latest horror offering Malignant. My detailed prediction post on it can be found here:

Malignant Box Office Prediction

There’s arguably been an over saturation in the market lately for scary pics. Malignant doesn’t seem to have much heat, but I have to give the reminder that this genre often over performs. I’ll still go with under $10 million and that would be good for second place.

Back to Shang-Chi. The acclaimed 25th MCU entry claimed the second highest COVID era debut (barely behind the other Marvel premiere from 2021 – Black Widow). Scarlett Johansson’s stand-alone title fell a steep 68% in its sophomore frame. I don’t foresee that occurring with Shang-Chi. With an A Cinemascore grade and it not being available on Disney Plus, a mid 50s dip seems more likely as it could foreseeably be #1 for the entire month of September.

Here’s how I see the top 5 shaking out:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $36.4 million

2. Malignant

Predicted Gross: $7.6 million

3. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million

4. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million

5. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

Box Office Results (September 3-6)

Mark it down as one of my incorrect forecasts ever. I thought the challenges facing Shang-Chi (COVID and the fact that big movies don’t really come out at this time of year) meant a $58.9 million four-day gross. Whoops. Try $94.6 million! Its $75 million traditional three-day take, as mentioned, is just after the $80 million that Widow made. Simply put, this is another testament that theatrical only can still be a moneymaking venture and that’s music to industry ears. To put it in perspective, the previous Labor Day record was 2007’s Halloween at $30 million. Rings tripled that and then some.

On the flip side, I was a little too generous to the holdovers. Candyman earned $12.5 million in its sophomore frame (a bit under my $13.4 million projection). The horror sequel/reboot, after its better than expected start, is up to $41 million.

Free Guy was third with $11.2 million (I said $14.2 million) and it’s made $94 million as it hurls towards the century mark.

PAW Patrol: The Movie sat in the four spot with $5.3 million compared to my $6.7 million prediction. Tally is $31 million.

Rounding out the top five was Jungle Cruise with $5.1 million. Once again, I went with more at $6.9 million. It has sailed off with $106 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

September 3-6 Box Office Predictions

The Labor Day weekend brings us the 25th MCU entry with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It should have no trouble dominating the charts over the holiday, but it could also hit the lowest mark (or close to it) as far as openings go for the vaunted franchise. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Box Office Prediction

Every single Marvel entry has debuted in first place and this will certainly be no different. The Incredible Hulk holds the distinction of smallest start with $55 million. With the extra Monday factored in, my high 50s projection gets Rings just past it. My estimate would also give it the lowest traditional Friday to Sunday beginning.

Could my take be underestimating its potential? Absolutely. Reviews are solid and word-of-mouth should be strong. However, it may have a slight disadvantage due to unfamiliarity of its characters. We are in strange territory for Disney’s most valuable series. Labor Day is usually a time when studios do not release would-be blockbusters. Prior to this, the highest earner premiering picture over the weekend was 2007’s Halloween at $30 million. I wrote all about that here:

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Labor Day Box Office

One thing that is rather consistent over Labor Day is that the summer holdovers tend to hold steady. In fact, many increase their haul from the previous late August frame. I expect this to hold true for the family fare – Free Guy, PAW Patrol: The Movie, and Jungle Cruise. 

Candyman had a sweet opening (more on that below) and I don’t anticipate it losing 50% of its audience or more like most horror titles do. That is primarily due to the holiday. It could fall to the low teens. If so, it could find itself in a battle for #2 with Free Guy and Ryan Reynolds may have the slight edge. The four spot could be close between Patrol and Cruise. 

With all that, here’s how I have the Friday to Monday Labor Day box office shaking out:

1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Gross: $58.9 million

2. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $14.2 million

3. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $13.4 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

5. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $6.7 million

Box Office Results (August 27-29)

Moviegoers were ready to call out the name Candyman again as the sequel/reboot opened at the most generous end of prognoses at $22 million. That bests my $17.3 million forecast. Nearly hitting its $25 million budget out of the gate, Universal has something to buzz about today. It also made history as Nia DaCosta is the first black woman to direct a #1 debuting feature.

Free Guy was runner-up after two weeks on top with $13.1 million, right on pace with my $13 million prediction. The total is $78 million as it zooms toward the century mark.

PAW Patrol: The Movie was third with $6.6 million (I said $6.1 million) for a decent two-week tally of $24 million.

Jungle Cruise took fourth with $5 million compared to my $4.6 million take. The Disney adventure is perched at $100 million and it’s no accident that the studio announced its sequel today.

Don’t Breathe 2 rounded out the top five with $2.8 million, on target with my $2.7 million projection. The horror sequel has made $24 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

August 27-29 Box Office Predictions

The month of August closes with the return of a familiar name in horror… just don’t say it five times. Nearly three decades after the original buzzed into theaters, the sequel/reboot Candyman is the sole new release this weekend. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Candyman Box Office Prediction

I’m going with a mid to high teens estimate with the caveat that this genre can over perform. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this fly a bit higher, but I’ll stick with my guns for now. That should be enough for a #1 start. If it doesn’t meet expectations, that could allow Free Guy to spend a third frame atop the charts after its remarkable hold this past weekend (more on that below).

With no new product, holdovers should all slide a spot. That means the top five should be bookended by fright fests with family fare in the middle. Here’s how I think it will look:

1. Candyman

Predicted Gross: $17.3 million

2. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13 million

3. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $6.1 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

5. Don’t Breathe 2

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

Box Office Results (August 20-22)

PAW Patrol: The Movie managed to bring the kiddos out and slightly outdid most forecasts. The new films catering to adults were all dogs.

Yet the headline of the weekend belonged to Free Guy as it remained in first with $18.5 million. That’s considerably better than my $13.9 million prediction. The Ryan Reynolds sci-fi comedy displayed the best sophomore hold we’ve seen all summer with just a 35% drop. We have become accustomed to seeing most titles plummet 50% or far more. That brings Guy‘s take to an impressive $58 million and its inclusion in the $100 million club seems assured. I wrote more about its earnings over the weekend here:

Free Guy Makes Them Pay

Paw Patrol: The Movie easily took second position with $13.1 million. The big screen rendering of the Nickelodeon show surpassed my $10.8 million projection.

Jungle Cruise was third with $6.3 million (I said $5.9 million). With $92 million overall, it’ll hit nine digits in short order.

The rest of the top five were returnees that I didn’t have slated to be there. Don’t Breathe 2 was fourth with $5 million. The fall of just over 50% in its second weekend is quite good for a horror flick and it’s made $19 million. Respect rounded out the top five with $3.7 million for a tally of $15 million.

And now for the trio of debuts that largely went unnoticed. The Protege was seventh with $2.9 million. I went with $4.7 million. In 8th place was The Night House with $2.8 million. I was a tad more generous at $3.1 million. And most embarrassingly, Hugh Jackman’s Reminiscence was the huge dud (considering its budget) as it placed 9th at $1.9 million. I said $6.8 million. Clearly audiences weren’t buying what was being sold with all three of these offerings.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Labor Day Box Office

Quick! Tell me everything you remember about the 2009 rom com All About Steve? Search that memory! My guess is not much. It stars Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper and it’s certainly not what most moviegoers remember about the two actors from that particular year. To be fair, they both hit career milestones 12 years ago. Bullock won an Oscar for The Blind Side. Cooper became a household name that summer in The Hangover. 

All About Steve won some awards as well. Not the kind that gets bragged about. The pic took home two Golden Raspberry trophies for Worst On Screen Couple and for Bullock as Worst Actress. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 6%. And it’s largely a forgotten blip on the filmographies of two accomplished performers.

Yet it does currently stand at #10 when it comes to biggest Labor Day openings in box office history. That’s because Labor Day weekend has traditionally not been a time for studios to release hoped for blockbusters. In normal times, that frame is generally seen as one in which the summer season is winding down and the fall projects are gearing up. It’s kind of an in between time.

The distinction for highest premiere over the holiday belongs to 2007’s Halloween (the reboot by Rob Zombie). It made $30 million out of the gate.

When you get down to Steve in tenth, the take is a mere $14 million for the four-day gross. There’s other pics you might have conveniently forgot about on that list. How about the ping pong comedy Balls of Fury with George Lopez and Christopher Walken? It’s #8 (also with $14 million). There’s the musical doc One Direction: This Is Us which is perched in fourth with $18 million. Jeepers Creepers and its sequel both make appearances.

Why the Labor Day history lesson? Because Disney is about to go against the grain and release their newest Marvel Cinematic Universe product in what has usually been a quiet time.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens September 3rd and hopes to blow away Halloween‘s current record. It should have no problem doing just that. However, it also risks having the designation of being the MCU’s smallest opener. The current mark belongs to The Incredible Hulk at $55 million.

Current projections have Rings doing about $50 million for the Friday to Monday frame. It may certainly exceed that and early word-of-mouth is encouraging (my official prediction will be up on Tuesday or Wednesday). Unlike Black Widow, the house that Mickey built is not making Rings simultaneously available for a $30 fee on Disney Plus.

There’s a case to be made that the 25th MCU flick faces challenges no other has. Black Widow had the advantage of a well-known character at the center. That helped propel the stand-alone entry to an $80 million bow as COVID continues to be a hindrance to earning power. Shang-Chi introduces a whole new group of players to this multi-billion cinematic universe. That didn’t hurt Guardians of the Galaxy or Black Panther, but they both had sizzling buzz leading to their unveilings.

So what will be talked about more in two weeks? The nearly certain record Rings will accomplish with its record Labor Day haul? Or the possibility that it sets a low mark for its practically never miss franchise? One thing is clear: Machete will drop down to spot 10 in all-time Labor Day beginnings. And there will nothing to see in the top ten about All About Steve.

Free Guy Makes Them Pay

As uncertainty regarding the box office continues amidst COVID concerns, there has been one undeniable bright spot in the dog days of August. That would be Shawn Levy’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds and its apparent second weekend grosses only puts an exclamation on the point.

The sci-fi family comedy surprised the film community originally with better than expected reviews (82% on Rotten Tomatoes). It continued to do so when it exceeded projections with a robust $28 million debut. Most forecasts ranged from the high teens to low 20s (my own was $21 million).

Yet perhaps the most encouraging sign are reports of its sophomore frame grosses. Free Guy will easily remain #1 with a projected drop around 40%. That should put it at approximately $17 million with an overall domestic take in the mid to upper 50s. With sturdy word-of-mouth, the Fox property seems destined to cross the $100 million mark stateside. The studio is already lining up a sequel. For context, that should be stronger than the second weekend for Jungle Cruise (which opened larger… more on that below).

Why is this somewhat unanticipated? To put it simply, Free Guy is performing in frame #2 much the same way it would without a pandemic. The few blockbusters of the season have experienced huge falls in their second outings and Free Guy is bucking that trend. Black Widow tumbled 68%. The Suicide Squad crashed at 71%. Even the aforementioned Jungle Cruise took a 55% dip.

What do all three of those titles have in common? That trio was available simultaneously on Disney Plus (Widow, Cruise) or HBO Max (Squad). Free Guy can be streamed only in the theater. With its positive audience reaction (it has an A on Cinemascore), moviegoers are proving that a title can have staying power if it’s: 1) good and 2) just in theaters.

This is a rare piece of good news for multiplexes in an industry starving for it. There are three other offerings this weekend aimed toward adults: Reminiscence, The Protege, and The Night House. All are headed toward meager starts outside of the top five. The other newbie is PAW Patrol: The Movie and it looks to slightly exceed expectations with around $12-$13 million (it’s also streaming on Paramount+).

So will studios adjust to Free Guy‘s solid performance? It could be a mixed bag. First, they might have to feel they have a product as pleasing as what Mr. Levy and Mr. Reynolds have created. Just yesterday, Universal Pictures announced they are keeping their animated sequel The Addams Family 2 in theaters but also making it available via streaming on the same say. On the other hand, Disney is keeping the next MCU adventure Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings only in cineplexes for 45 days starting Labor Day weekend. That might be the biggest test we have seen thus far for the theater only experiment.

Is Free Guy an anomaly or proof that if you build it only in theaters… they will come? We may need some more samples before studios make more decisions that favor theater chains.

August 20-22 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Note (08/18): I am revising my PAW Patrol: The Movie estimate up from $7.9M to $10.8M.

The dog days of summer continues with four new offerings in the marketplace and they could all fall short of the second weekend of Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds. Speaking of dogs, we have PAW Patrol: The Movie as well as three more adult oriented offerings: Hugh Jackman’s sci-fi thriller Reminiscence, action flick The Protege with Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson and horror pic The Night House. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

The Protege Box Office Prediction

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

The Night House Box Office Prediction

I don’t have any of the features from the fresh quartet (not a sequel in the bunch!) topping $10 million. That means Free Guy, after a better than anticipated bow, should manage to remain #1 in its sophomore outing. I’m assuming it will dip in the low to mid 50s like Jungle Cruise did a couple of weeks back.

As for those newcomers, the one I’m most conflicted about is PAW Patrol: The Movie. It certainly has a built-in fan base of youngsters who may drag their parents to see it. Rather unexpectedly, it’s generating quite decent reviews. However, my hunch is that some families may wait for it to be on the small screen and I’m projecting third place.

That’s behind Reminiscence which could approach double digits. Jackman’s latest is also available on HBO Max. It will be competing for eyeballs with The Protege, which I have pegged for mid single digits (if anything, I think it could go lower). In fact, it could be in a battle for fifth with Jungle Cruise in its fourth weekend.

The Night House comes at the tale end of a season packed with horror titles and I believe it’s bound to get lost in the shuffle. My meager $3.1 million estimate leaves it well outside the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

2. PAW Patrol: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

3. Reminiscence

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. The Protege

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

Box Office Results (August 13-15)

Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky for Ryan Reynolds and Free Guy. The Fox (and therefore Disney) property opened on the higher end of forecasts with $28.3 million, topping my $21.3 million estimate. With an A Cinemascore grade, audiences liked what they saw and it sounds as if a sequel will happen. The near $30 million start might have been called slightly disappointing in different times. All things considered, it’s rather strong.

Horror sequel (I’ve been saying that a lot lately) Don’t Breathe 2 debuted with $10.6 million, just under my $11.2 million take. That’s miles away from the $26 million that the 2016 predecessor took in, but generally in line with most predictions. At a cost of just $15 million, it should turn a nice profit for Sony Pictures.

Jungle Cruise was third in its third weekend with $9.1 million – right on pace with my $8.9 million estimate. The Disney adventure is at $82 million with $100 million in its sights.

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect with Jennifer Hudson also hit its anticipated mark in fourth with $8.8 million. That’s a tad ahead of my $8.5 million call. Reviews were only so-so though its lead could be on her way to a Best Actress nomination.

And, finally, the bad news for The Suicide Squad continued. Following a disastrous opening, the reboot/sequel plunged an equally disturbing 71% to fifth with $7.4 million. I was more optimistic at $10.1 million. The ten-day tally is a lowly $42 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

August 13-15 Box Office Predictions

After a weekend where The Suicide Squad majorly performed under expectations, there are three titles opening Friday and the studios are hoping this isn’t a trend. Ryan Reynolds stars in the video game inspired sci-fi comedy Free Guy and it should manage to top the charts. We also have horror sequel Don’t Breathe 2 and the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect with Jennifer Hudson. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio here:

Free Guy Box Office Prediction

Don’t Breathe 2 Box Office Prediction

Respect Box Office Prediction

With Free Guy pegged in the low to mid 20s, there shouldn’t be much question that it kicks off in first. I have Breathe achieving less than half of what its 2016 predecessor accomplished and that should be good enough for second place.

The real battle could be for third. As mentioned, The Suicide Squad was a dud (more on that below). I’m assuming it drops about 60% which puts it just over $10 million. The third weekend of Jungle Cruise and premiere of Respect could be right behind that, but it could be close.

Here’s how I foresee the top five shaking out:

1. Free Guy

Predicted Gross: $21.3 million

2. Don’t Breathe 2

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

3. The Suicide Squad

Predicted Gross: $10.1 million

4. Jungle Cruise

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million

5. Respect

Predicted Gross: $8.5 million

Box Office Results (August 6-8)

The underperformance of The Suicide Squad generated plenty of attention this weekend. The reboot of the DCEU franchise earned just $26.2 million and that’s well below my projection of $40.8 million. I could go on, but I already did a separate blog post on it. You can find it here:

Squad Goals Thwarted

Disney’s Jungle Cruise didn’t fall quite as much as other pics in their sophomore frames in recent weeks. The Dwayne Johnson/Emily Blunt family adventure made $15.8 million (in line with my $15.5 million prediction) for a $65 million ten day take.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Old was third with $4.1 million in its third frame -a bit more than my $3.5 million projection for $38 million total.

Black Widow was fourth with $3.9 million (I said $3.7 million) as it stands at a COVID era best $174 million.

Stillwater rounded out the top five in its second outing with $2.8 million. I incorrectly had it outside the high five. It’s at a mere $9 million.

Finally, The Green Knight was sixth with $2.5 million (I went with $2.7 million) for $12 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Squad Goals Thwarted

Uh oh. That is likely to be the prevailing refrain coming from not only Warner Bros today, but Hollywood as a whole. The August box office has kicked off with only one wide release this weekend and it’s a high profile one in The Suicide Squad. This is the hard R rated reboot of the franchise from director James Gunn, who’s had massive success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel.

Hopes were riding high after this Squad received unexpectedly laudatory marks from critics with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score. The 2016 Suicide Squad managed only 26% and still became a financial success story. In fact, its $65 million opening Friday set the August record five years back. It went on to gross $133 million for the weekend and $325 million overall domestic.

With the Delta variant rising across the country and the 2021 version being available on HBO Max, no one expected this to match the original. However, when it made $4 million on Thursday night, that seemed to correlate with a premiere close to $40 million (where I had it pegged).

What a difference a day makes. Reports have The Suicide Squad earning just over $12 million for Friday (this includes the Thursday preview numbers). And that means a debut in the mid 20s is where it’s headed. That is absolutely on the lowest end of forecasts.

In short… that’s bad. Usually comic book movies are critic proof if the reviews are mediocre (like Suicide Squad). One would think the unanticipated praise would’ve been a boost. Not so. To make it worse, 2020’s spin-off Birds of Prey focused on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn character took in $33 million out of the gate. I can’t imagine Warner Bros ever imagined The Suicide Squad would fall short of that.

So what happened? There will be many theories. First off, 2016’s Squad was a hit, but audiences didn’t exactly love it and perhaps they weren’t clamoring for a reimagining. The original Squad had a PG-13 rating and that means youngsters had a better opportunity to turn out. The new Squad being on HBO Max. The absence of the franchise’s biggest star Will Smith.

These are all viable explanations and they might all be contributors (especially the general ambivalence for what we witnessed five years ago). Studios are really hoping the overriding rationale isn’t the Delta variant. If so, don’t be shocked if we see other major releases start getting delayed again. That would be a reversal from where things seemed headed even last month. There’s a whole lotta movie lovers hoping No Time to Die or Dune or Halloween Kills and more stick to their fall plans.

Family fare like Space Jam: A New Legacy and Jungle Cruise opened slightly above projections and both were available on streaming. Theaters owners had reason to feel hopeful. To be clear, one failure may not change the dynamic and The Suicide Squad could represent a blip where the aforementioned circumstances caused the lackluster performance. Yet there’s little doubt that radars across Tinsel Town are at full attention and that this never-ending story of uncertainty carries on.