Box Office UPDATE: “The Suicide Squad” Dead With $42 Mil Total, “Respect” Gets None on $8.8 Mil Opening

Two bombs, two different kinds of movies.

Box office experts will be Monday morning quarterbacking “The Suicide Squad” for  a long time to come.

Well reviewed, well made, and dead dead dead. James Gunn did a great job making a very witty, entertaining movie. Maybe it was too smart for its audience. Anyway, “The Suicide Squad” cost $200 million, and has brought in a total of $42 million. The party is over.

What the heck happened? Warner’s is having problems, certainly, even with HBO Max. “In the Heights” just failed in June, and that had high expectations.

“TSS” will be blamed for its title, its rating, and so on. But I think it will come back down the line as a cult hit. But that won’t help anyone now. What a shame. But when a movie goes cold, it’s freezing, and this one has been iced by the moviegoing audience.

And now to “Respect”: the prediction was $9.1 million, it came in under at $8.8 million. Jennifer Hudson can still get an Oscar, and she deserves a special award for throwing herself into the promotion like no other. I am in awe of how much work she put into this.

But “Respect” has middling reviews. It’s just not a great movie except for her performance. The direction is muddled, from a bad script. They should have stuck with Callie Khouri, but changed screenwriters. Tracey Scott Nelson just made up her own story and information. No one took any time understanding Aretha Franklin, except for Jennifer Hudson.

I’ve written about the various people who were left out of the movie. So key to a biography of Aretha at Atlantic Records was Ahmet Ertegun and his wife, Mica. Ahmet and his brother Nesuhi created Atlantic. Aretha loved them, and vice versa. They represented Society to Aretha, something she was keenly aware of. Whenever she needed them or they needed her, even after the Atlantic heyday, they were there for each other. Atlantic also connected Aretha and Ray Charles, and so on. There were so many missed opportunities in “Respect.” But the music lives on.

On the good news side, “Free Guy” is a HIT. Ryan Reynolds and his video gamers scooped up $28.4 million for the four days (three in trade talk). They’ve got over $50 million in the bank worldwide. For Reynolds this should wipe away the stink of “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” which died a slow and painful death. So the lesson here is, all Ryan needs is an actual script and he’s good to go.

PS to United Artists Releasing, you’d better put “Respect” on streaming sooner rather than later. If no one’s coming to the theaters, don’t wait around. And maybe get a better publicist.

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