‘Suicide Squad’: Final Box Office Disappoints In One Major Way

Suicide Squad, DC/Time Warner, and the crew behind the film, have had plenty of reasons to celebrate what has been an undeniably successful box office run.

After all, according to Box Office Mojo, the film has grossed over $720 million on a production budget of $175 million and a probable overall budget between $300-$350 million. Suicide Squad has a profit in the ballpark of around $400 million no matter how you slice it.

Who wouldn’t be happy with that? The answer: possibly DC/Time Warner.

The company has poured over $1 billion into launching the DC Extended Movie Universe (DCEMU) and while there are no monumental financial failures yet, the returns just aren’t comparable with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

What’s worse, even some of the lesser Marvel Comics characters outside the MCU have outperformed individual DCEMU films, Suicide Squad included, in either head-to-head box office or overall profitability.

One of the best examples to illustrate this is Deadpool, which released earlier this year.

On paper, Deadpool was the kind of film to make a major studio executive cringe. He was a relatively new character without the heritage of a Batman or Superman behind him, and he was starring in a graphically R-rated film.

Traditionally, superhero films are rated PG or PG-13. For starters, there is an audience demographic to think about. Most fans have their first exposure to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc., when they are small children.

It wouldn’t be a good idea to sucker in general moviegoers with a character they were certain was safe for the whole family and then bombard them with F-bombs, horrific violence, full frontal nudity, and highly sexualized humor.

The genre itself has long been in the mold of Bats and Supes, but Deadpool threw caution to the wind and paid off big time for 20th Century Fox, the studio behind it.

Just how much of a payoff?

By the end of its run, the film grossed $782 million worldwide and more than Batman V Superman in domestic box office. The cost to make it? $58 million.

Even if you’re taking the two-times multiplier that placed Suicide Squad at an overall cost of $350 million to make and market, the raunchier comedic superhero film cost just $116 million and had a return of around 674 percent.

Suicide Squad is just about at the end of its run. Returns have slowed to a trickle. It’s highly unlikely that it hits $750 million worldwide, and if it does, the ROI is only around 214 percent — less than one-third of Deadpool‘s success.

The story of Suicide Squad‘s box office is largely a continuation of the one that began with BvS — massive hype, huge premiere, horrible critical reception, and a drop-off in audience that implies the critics were right to label these terrible films.

It’s certainly no way to build a massive multi-film universe, and with the increasing number of blockbuster-designed films crashing and burning at the box office, it reveals a grim future.

If film historians don’t look at films like BvS and Suicide Squad and attribute the eventual death of the superhero genre to them — profits notwithstanding — they will at the very least acknowledge them as contributors to that demise.

But what do you think, readers?

Is it short-sighted for DCEMU supporters to look at Suicide Squad and call it a success just because there is a profit margin, or will the future be kinder to these films? Sound off in the comments section below.

[Featured Image from Suicide Squad, DC/Time Warner]