Skip to main content

Some 'Flop'--Warner's ‘The Suicide Squad’ Just Had One of HBO Max’s Biggest Day-and-date Debuts Yet

Warner Bros. movie 'The Suicide Squad'
(Image credit: WarnerMedia)

Revealing that success for day-and-date distribution of movies isn’t determined by the simple binary equation that used to define it, Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad was watched by 2.8 million households on HBO Max last weekend, according to Samba TV. 

The film, said to have “underwhelmed” at the domestic box office by Variety, while The Hollywood Reporter (now controlled by the same owner as Variety) described the Squad's “struggles,” opened to just $26.2 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters. But it actually had a bigger first three days on the WarnerMedia streaming service than Wonder Woman 1984 (2.2 million households) and The Little Things (1.4 million households), according to Samba TV data, two other big WarnerMedia day-and-date releases.

Godzilla vs. King Kong debuted to 3.6 million HBO Max households at the end of March, according to Samba TV, but that was over a five-day frame. (Samba TV measures usage on smart TVs.)

Agreed, the HBO Max subscriber base is significantly bigger than when those earlier films debuted on the service, two of them having premiered more than six months ago. But HBO Max has grown, to a significant extent, from WarnerMedia’s commitment to release its entire 2021 slate on the streaming service simultaneously with theatrical premiere. 

The Suicide Squad’s domestic theatrical debut was much smaller than several tentpole releases earlier this summer—notably, Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II ($48 million), Universal’s F9 ($70 million) and Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow ($80 million).

But with HBO Max growing its user base—and the COVID-19 “delta” variant causing some to rethink their return to the multiplex—a number of pundits are discounting the notion that theatrical performance means a great deal right now. 

“Dear Hollywood Press: you are making a huge mistake calling films failures that stream day-and-date at no extra cost on streaming services. @SuicideSquadWB has great critic/viewer ratings and is streaming at no cost on @hbomax driving sub growth,” LightShed Partners’ Rich Greenfield tweeted over the weekend. 

Notably, The Suicide Squad, which stars Margot Robbie, Idris Elba and John Cena, has a solid 91% score from critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.