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America's fixation on superhero films can make good money, or even "super money" at the opening box office — even if reviews are horrible.
DC's March release of "Batman vs. Superman" is proof of that, and this weekend's monster debut of "Suicide Squad" also proved that a movie can defy the poison pen of critics.
The film about a cadre of super-villains who save the world showed that sometimes, bad guys finish first. 'Suicide Squad' rang up more than $135 million in receipts this weekend, shattering an August record and breathing life into a weak summer box office. It begs the question of why movie goers are willing to shake off the effects of lousy reviews.
It's all in the branding, Paul Dergarabedian, a Comscore senior media analyst, told CNBC recently.
"Suicide Squad," an action flick with a star-studded cast but bleak critic reviews, hit the silver screen on Friday. The film, about a team of villains on a mission, only garnered only 27 percent from Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review aggregator.
However, the Rotten Tomatoes effect didn't lead to empty seats at the movie theater. That's because the target audience is not movie critics but rather hardcore comic book fans, Dergarabedian told CNBC's "Power Lunch " last week.
He cited the branding and allure of the casting for a successful movie recipe. In an age where streaming content is readily available on screens at home, Dergarabedian said star casting and beloved characters can make people get up from their couches.
"If you have a Batman versus Superman, that's a really irresistible concept. Suicide Squad with Will Smith and Margot Robbie…[is] one of the most talked about movies on social media," he said. "
At Comscore, we have a product called PreAct, we listen to social media conversation. For this movie, it's been off the charts for weeks, " Dergarabedian added. "But then you have the flipside: [there is] critical take on movie and for this one it hasn't been good, but it doesn't seem to matter."
For example, "Batman vs Superman" also suffered from negative feedback, but still broke the record for Thursday night sales at $27.7 million.
The dreaded "superhero movie fatigue " has not yet settled in, suggesting franchises are here to stay. There are eight more films in the works between now and 2020, including "Wonder Woman," which launches next year.
Despite the negative reviews, the opening night box office numbers for "Suicide Squad" tell a different story: The movie pulled in $20.5 million dollars from just Thursday night, which is nearly double what Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" made last year, $11.5 million. Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner President and CEO, predicted that Suicide Squad would be the first to hit $100 million in August.
To be sure, the negative word of mouth is more than likely to have a carryover effect into the coming weeks.The Hollywood Reporter said "Suicide Squad" saw a 41 percent revenue drop from Friday to Saturday, with poor word of mouth being the likely culprit.
"If you're going to create a franchise it better be good — marketing can buy you a good opening weekend, but a good movie buys you long term success," Dergarabedian said.
--The Associated Press contributed to this article