James Gunn: “Movies don’t last on the big screen, they last on television”

‘The Suicide Squad’ has underwhelmed in its opening weekend

James Gunn has discussed The Suicide Squad’s joint release in cinemas and streaming services, stating that films “last because they’re seen on television”.

The Suicide Squad has underperformed at the box office in its opening weekend by grossing $26.5million of its $30million projection in the US. Between an adult age rating and acting as a quasi-reboot of the critically maligned original, many are looking for reasons why a typically fruitful comic-book film has fallen short.

One potential factor is that it’s a joint release with streaming service HBO Max. Andy Forssell, HBO Max chief, stated via The Hollywood Reporter that The Suicide Squad “was the second most viewed film over an opening weekend” on the platform since it began day-and-date releases with cinemas this year.

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Speaking to Variety before the film’s release, director Gunn expressed his view on the joint release between platforms. “I don’t really care that much. I really just care about whatever the project is in front of me,” he said.

The Suicide Squad
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, John Cena as Peacemaker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Peter Capaldi as The Thinker and Idris Elba as Bloodsport in ‘The Suicide Squad’ (Picture: Warner Bros. Pictures™ & DC Comics)

The Suicide Squad is made to be seen first and foremost on a big screen. I think it’s gonna work just fine on television. Listen, movies don’t last because they’re seen on the big screen. Movies last because they’re seen on television.

Jaws isn’t still a classic because people are watching it in theatres. I’ve never seen Jaws in a movie theatre. It’s one of my favourite movies.”

Aside from Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.3, Gunn is working on a HBO Max spin-off series for John Cena’s character Peacemaker from The Suicide Squad – an experience that made him realise TV might be better suited to his talents.

He added: “In fact, in some ways, I’m more comfortable in television because I get more time to focus on the characters and I don’t feel so pressured to move to the next scene and the next scene and the next scene.

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“I also don’t want the theatrical experience to die. I don’t know if that is possible, but we also don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ve still got COVID, because people won’t get vaccinated, which, you know, they should. Hopefully – hopefully – that will not be a big deal to us in a year.

“Nobody knows. I care, because I would rather have people be able to go to the movies. But also, if they don’t, I’m not going to go slit my wrists. I don’t care that much.”

In NME’s four-star review, The Suicide Squad is described as “bold, boisterous and only schmaltzy right at its climax” and “proves you can spend time with the bad guys without regretting it afterwards”.

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