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'Suicide Squad' takes aim at record-breaking open despite negative reviews

"Suicide Squad"
Source: Suicidesquad.com
"Suicide Squad"

Is DC's latest superhero romp, "Suicide Squad," fated to repeat the sins of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"?

Well, it looks like it's up to the fans.

Warner Bros.' latest superhero flick, a film about a group of villains teaming up to take on an even greater evil, was widely panned by critics, earning at its lowest point a 29 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a slew of lackluster reviews.

Despite the reviews, "Suicide Squad," slated for release on Friday, is poised to garner somewhere between $115 million and $140 million during its opening weekend and be the first movie to break the $100 million mark during the month of August.

"Don't be surprised if this one opens above 'Deadpool's' $132.4 million and could very easily top $145 million," Brad Brevet, an editor at Box Office Mojo, wrote last week.

Incidentally, it would also mark the first $100 million opening for veteran actor Will Smith, who portrays Deadshot in the film.

However, a record-breaking opening weekend could be overshadowed by a massive drop in ticket sales during its second week of showings.

Case and point: "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." That Warner Bros. superhero flick dazzled at the box office during its opening weekend, earning more than $166 million. But ticket sales fell 68 percent the following week, due in part to poor critic reviews and word of mouth from fans.

It is not uncommon for superhero movies to see sales plummet after a strong opening, but the drop fueled audience members on the fence about seeing the film to balk.

"Generally, films that are the product of a lot of marketing and pre-release excitement tend to drop off significantly in the second weekend," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, told CNBC.

Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" fell 64.6 percent in its second weekend and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" dropped 61.4 percent, according to the Associated Press.

The Marvel cinematic universe has seen similar drops during second week showings. Disney's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" fell 59.4 percent and Fox's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" dropped 64.2 percent.

"Batman v Superman" currently holds a 27 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — the result of 250 rotten ratings out of 344 critics' reviews — and an audience score of 65 percent. Going into opening weekend, the film held a score of about 28 percent.

"There were a lot of movies this year that could not get traction because on social media, once they opened the conversation turned negative; the sentiment was negative," Dergarabedian said. "Now, 'Batman v Superman,' that made close to $900 million worldwide, so that was an emotional response that it wasn't the movie that everybody had hoped for, but on paper, certainly it earned what most films would be envious of and what most studios would love to see on their bottom line for worldwide performance."

Fans are certainly having an emotional response to Warner Bros.' latest film. A petition appeared on Change.org on Tuesday to shut down Rotten Tomatoes for giving "The DC Extended Universe movies unjust bad reviews." More than 18,000 people supported the petition.

"A petition definitely won't shut down the site," the creator of the Change.org petition, a user named Abdullah Coldwater, wrote, "The aim of the petition is to deliver a message to the critics that there is a lot of people disagree [sic] with their reviews."

It should be noted that when the petition was posted, "Suicide Squad" had yet to be released in theaters and, therefore, very few fans would have seen the film before signing the petition. In addition, Rotten Tomatoes does not write the reviews on its website, it aggregates published opinions from hundreds of approved film and television critics.

"In the superhero genre and the comic book world, people are heavily invested emotionally and [the bad reviews are] like your grandma walking into your party and pulling the plug on your music before the party really gets going," Dergarabedian said.

"But, that's what Rotten Tomatoes is for. They serve a really valuable purpose and people use them all the time. They're referenced all time. But, when you have that kind of influence, you are also going to be subject to people, like in this case, [getting] together and not happy with the pre-release rating of the movie by people who haven't even seen it themselves."

Coldwater ended the petition on Wednesday noting that it was "just for fun" and wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

"After thinking, I found this petition is pointless," Coldwater wrote. "And the only thing that it does is spreading a speech of hate and online fighting among the supporters and objectors [sic]. The movies is something to enjoy. And the hate and fight is the opposite of enjoying."

Regardless of critics, fan sentiment is all that matters, according to Dergarabedian.

"Ultimately, the most important critics are the true fans via the Twittersphere and Facebook, whose opinions collectively will matter more and have a bigger impact on that second weekend performance than anything that the critics are saying about the movie," Dergarabedian said.

Disclosure: Rotten Tomatoes is a unit of Fandango, which is owned by CNBC parent Comcast.