When it comes to multiplex fare, good reviews don’t buy box-office success any more than bad ones prevent it. Just look at this past weekend: All three of the new wide releases scored above 80 percent on the Tomatometer (an imperfect metric, yes, but certainly some measure of a film’s general critical reception). But none of them could edge out of the certified rotten Suicide Squad, which is rocking the exact same average as Batman V Superman: a dismal 27 percent.
David Ayer’s supervillain ensemble did take an expected plummet, like two cosplaying Hot Topic clowns diving headfirst into a vat of chemicals. But losing two-thirds of its audience still left Suicide Squad with another $43.7 million—enough to secure the top spot at the box-office for a second weekend in a row, and to bring the film’s grand total past the $200 million mark. It’s now the 8th-highest-grossing movie of the year, right behind—you guessed it—Batman V Superman. Fans may howl with rage over the lousy marks, but there’s not a ton of correlation between how critics respond to these kind of four-quadrant blockbusters and how well they do in the box-office colosseum. In other words: Relax, DC geeks. The future of your gritty, ultraviolent mega-franchise is probably secure.
So what about the newcomers? The bawdy animated spoof Sausage Party actually did better than expected, landing in second place with $33.6 million, despite its R rating and reportedly scathing takedown of organized religion. The film cost a shockingly frugal $19 million, meaning that it never needed to smash records to get out of the red. (Though don’t necessarily believe talk that Suicide Squad will have to make $800 million to break even.) A real children’s film, Disney’s soulful remake of Pete’s Dragon, didn’t do as hot; its third-place, $21.5 million finish is about on par with what The BFG made in its first weekend, though the comparably modest $65 million budget brings it closer to “minor disappointment” than “whizpopping flop.” Meanwhile, down in eighth place, Florence Foster Jenkins raked in $6.5 million, which is almost exactly what last summer’s Streep vehicle, Ricki And The Flash, managed out the gate.
If there’s one place critics can make a dollar-and-cents difference, it’s in the smaller arena of limited and specialty releases. To that end, Hell Or High Water may have benefitted from near universal acclaim: David Mackenzie’s exciting cops-and-robbers picture heisted $592,000 on 32 screens—or about $18,000 per screen, easily the weekend’s best average. We critics may not be able to stop the spread of a garbage fire like Suicide Squad, but at least we can help point audiences in the direction of a compelling alternative.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.