DC movie. Massive hype. Record-high opening in the US/Canada. Record-big second weekend drop. Sadness. Frustration. Anger.
Blah, blah, blah…
Been there, done that. First it was Batman v Superman (-69%). Now it’s Suicide Squad (-67%). Next year it could be Wonder Woman and Justice League. This time was supposed to be different, but it wasn’t. WB is now building its DC empire off of two of the most objectively hated comic book movies of all time, at least as measured by how quickly they plummeted once the toxic word of mouth torpedoed the second weekend box office. This is the type of company they’re in now (via The Wrap):
Brav-freakin-o, WB. You took your holy trinity, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, and the single most popular female character in all of comics right now, Harley Quinn, and put them into two separate movies which now must be spoken of in the same breath as X-Men: The Last Stand, Fantastic Four, Kick-Ass 2, Jonah Hex, Origins: Wolverine and Elektra, to name a few. You somehow topped yourselves in second week sucktitute because even Green Lantern‘s second weekend drop-off wasn’t this bad.
BvS’s freefall continued well after its second weekend to the point that it posted easily the worst opening-weekend-to-total-gross multiplier of any movie to have ever debuted above $100 million. Worldwide, it fell over $100m short of the studio’s $1b goal. Suicide Squad, meanwhile, could very well end up with a lower domestic total than Guardians of the Galaxy ($333m) despite previously shattering James Gunn’s opening weekend record for August. As of this writing, Suicide Squad‘s sitting at $222m domestic, $243m foreign and $466m worldwide. With no China release in the cards, Squad might fall short of the $750m-$800m worldwide goal THR previously indicated as being the range where the studio could finally start to feel happy with the results.
Obviously, it’s all quite bad. But just because Suicide Squad plunged at the domestic box office this weekend doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also doing the same thing in every single country around the world. Or does it?
We always hear about box office in us (domestic) versus them (foreign) terms, or maybe us, China and everyone else. Makes sense. The US and China’s combined global box office gross is substantially larger than the combined might of the next 19 biggest foreign markets in the world. However, a movie as high profile as Suicide Squad plays in pretty much any corner of the world that has a working theater screen. Surely some of those foreign moviegoers think Suicide Squad is a bit of alright.
Well, Squad is currently playing in over 30 countries, including biggies at the global box office market like South Korea and Australia and relatively small players like the Czech Republic. At the time of this writing, second weekend data is only available for 12 of Squad‘s countries, 3 of which (Slovakia, Bulgaria, Iceland) are showing the film in less than 30 theaters. Additionally, those three will contribute less than $1m in total box office to Squad‘s global take. As such, I collected the second-weekend data from the 9 other countries, all of which have already passed the $1m mark in Squad box office and are exhibiting the film in at least 60 theaters. I focused specifically on the percentage drops in each country, and then compared those results to the drops experienced by BvS and Man of Steel.
The question: Is Suicide Squad‘s second-weekend domestic plunge happening everywhere else in the world, and/or is it declining roughly on par with BvS in every country?
Note: Among the listed countries on the following chart, South Korea is the 5th biggest international box office market, Australia is 8th, Mexico is 9th, the Netherlands are 15th and the rest are outside the top 20, according to the MPAA.
So, South Korea (look at the 85% decline!) and Norway turned on Suicide Squad faster they turned on Batman v Superman. Mexico and South Africa seem to regard the films as equals. Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland and the Czech Republic all seem to prefer Squad to BvS. Heck, the Netherlands, Finland and Czech Republic appear to even dig Squad more than Man of Steel.
Across this subset of countries, Squad does not appear to be declining quite as dramatically as it is in the US. It also not uniformly dropping on par with BvS everywhere in the world. However, in terms of the bottom line the single biggest foreign market on this chart is South Korea, and you can see that the DCEU movies are suffering progressively larger second weekend drops there – 67% for Man of Steel, 70% for BvS and a stunning 85% for Suicide Squad. So, yeah, DC movies not so popular in South Korea right now.
But we need something to actually put all of this into context. After all, how do we know that a 57% drop in Mexico isn’t the equivalent of a 67% drop in the US/Canada?
That’s why I decided to look at the second weekend drop stats for three films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I specifically picked Guardians of the Galaxy as a Suicide Squad comp (same release slot, same lots of things other than quality) Civil War for BvS (hero vs. hero angle, released one month from another) and Iron Man 3 for Man of Steel (they came out the same summer)
They all played noticeably better than their DC counterparts in the really big markets like US/Canada, South Korea, Australia and the Netherlands, although Iron Man 3 (-56%) and Man of Steel (-54%) had nearly identical second weekend drops in Australia and massively different dips in the Netherlands (-32% vs. -56%). The Marvel movies also trumped the DC ones in smaller box office territories like New Zealand, Finland and the Czech Republic. However, Suicide and Guardians were roughly on par with each other in Mexico (-57% vs. -54%) while Civil War fared far worse than BvS (-66% vs. -56%) and Iron Man 3 trounced Man of Steel (-54% vs. -62%). There are similar discrepancies in South Africa and Norway, both of which appear to have really not cared for Civil War.
What does all of this tell us? Mostly that in the markets which matter most to a film’s bottom line the Marvel Cinematic Universe had predictably better second weekend holds and thus stronger word-of-mouth than their DC Extended Universe counterparts. Suicide Squad is not necessarily plunging right on par with BvS everywhere it’s playing, but in a lot of countries they both pale in comparison to the most comparable Marvel titles.