Box-Office Preview: Can 'Suicide Squad' Best 'Deadpool' in U.S. Debut?

Warner Bros. and DC's supervillains are finally about to begin their assault in theaters.

Tracking suggests David Ayer's Suicide Squad will do mega-business in its global debut this weekend, including an opening in the $130 million-$140 million range in North America.

That means it could beat Fox and Marvel's surprise hit Deadpool, the offbeat superhero movie starring Ryan Reynolds that opened to a record $134.2 million in February on its way to grossing $782.6 million to become the top-grossing R-rated title of all time. Suicide Squad — another defining moment for the DC Extended Universe — has the advantage of a friendlier PG-13 rating.

Early reviews for Suicide Squad aren't great, and it remains to be seen whether such notices dampen opening-weekend traffic. Many think not, considering Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was shunned by most critics yet debuted to $166.1 million domestically in late March. (It would be a shocker if Ayer's film topped Dawn of Justice.

Suicide Squad is almost assured of nabbing the top August debut of all time in North America and taking the crown from rival Marvel and Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy, likewise about a group of anti-heroes. In August 2014, Guardians debuted to a surprise $94.3 million on its way to earning a muscle-bound $733.2 million. And Suicide Squad is likewise assured of scoring the second-best opening of summer 2016 after Marvel's Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million).

The movie certainly doesn't lack for star power, led by Will Smith, who remains one of the world's biggest movie stars, along with Jared Leto (as The Joker), Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood and Cara Delevingne. The story, from a script by Ayer, follows a group of incarcerated supervillains who are released by a secret government agency to save the world from a dangerous threat.

At the other end of the spectrum, family-friendly film Nine Lives — starring Kevin Spacey as a neglectful dad turned into a cat — opens opposite Suicide Squad. Jennifer Garner also stars in the film, made by heavyweight French company EuropaCorp. Barry Sonnenfeld directed Nine Lives, which is expected to bow in the $8 million-$9 million range.

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