- Audience testing suggests new winner from DC Comics library
- Studio has nine superhero films on schedule through 2020
Warner Bros. may have finally nailed the superhero formula with “Suicide Squad.”
The DC Comics-based film set for release on Aug. 5 is forecast to open with weekend sales of $100 million to $110 million, based on surveys of moviegoers compiled by the Burbank, California-based studio, people with knowledge of the matter said. Some of the data suggest it could go as high as $125 million, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the marketing research is private.
“Warner Bros. finally has something that has palpable buzz and will deliver too,” said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co.
The studio, part of Time Warner Inc., needs a fresh hit from its comic book division. Two years ago, Warner Bros. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Tsujihara laid out a six-year plan for superhero movies to catch up with Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel hit factory, which has produced several films topping $1 billion in global ticket sales.
Warner Bros.’s first DC Comics movie this year, “Batman v Superman,” fell short of those lofty totals with $873 million in worldwide sales even after scoring a $166 million weekend opening, the second best this year.
Tracking information for “Suicide Squad” suggests an opening comparable to Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” That 2014 film, featuring characters new to theaters, opened to $94 million in 2014 and holds the record for an August debut. “Deadpool,” a Marvel-based film from 20th Century Fox, was a surprise hit in February with an opening weekend of $132 million for a Marvel character making his big-screen debut.
“Suicide Squad” features Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot and Cara Delevinge at Enchantress. They make up a secret government task force of super villains who are offered shorter prison sentences in exchange for taking on dangerous missions. Ben Affleck reprises his role as Batman and Jared Leto is The Joker.
The studio will release “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” films in 2017 and seven more untitled DC films through 2020, according to the studio and Box Office Mojo.