Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in 'The Suicide Squad'. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics)

With 16 million Australians in lockdown last weekend, the box office prospects for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad were fairly slim.

The DC/Warner Bros.’ standalone sequel, effectively a ‘do-over’ of 2016’s critically panned Suicide Squad, still mustered $1.4 million from 305 screens, a decent opening average of $4,635.

Indeed, the Margot Robbie and Viola Davis-starrer was the main film audiences still able to go the cinema turned out for, boasting a 50 per cent market share.

According to Numero, the top 20 titles made just $2.7 million, 40 per cent down on the previous – unsurprisingly the lowest tally this of year.

Cinemas in Sydney and parts of regional NSW, Victoria and South East Queensland were all closed, while mask wearing indoors remains compulsory in many other areas of the country.

Majestic Cinemas, based across regional NSW and Queensland, had three of eight sites locked down over the weekend, representing about 50 per cent of screens. COVID fear elsewhere is “palpable” and clearly affecting attendance, CEO Kieren Dell tells IF.

“We did find that Jungle Cruise actually held up reasonably well in week 2 at most of the open sites, which was encouraging. The Suicide Squad is a bit harder to read – MA movies are not our forte in regional areas (we generally have much lower numbers of people in the 18-35 age group than metro areas), but it was our no. 1 or 2 movie at most sites next to Jungle Cruise and seemed to do reasonable numbers in the circumstances. But after those two, third was daylight,” Dell says.

In North America The Suicide Squad has been regarded as underwhelming, with pundits suggesting the film’s simultaneous release on HBO Max, the Delta variant, and fatigue with the franchise hurt its theatrical trajectory. There, it opened on $US26.5 million, and worldwide has made $US72.2 million – its budget is reported to be $US185 million.

The weekend’s other new releases included Forum Films’ Punjabi-language sports film Tunka Tunka, which had the second highest screen average of the weekend after The Suicide Squad, earning $47,224 from just 19 screens. Madman also released French comedy The Rose Maker on 27 screens for $28,917, taking it to $151,526 with previews and festival screenings.

No. 2 overall was Disney’s Jungle Cruise in its second frame with a result of $479,644. That is 70 per cent down on its opening, with more than 100 screens lost. So far, the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt film, based on the theme park ride, has made $2.4 million.

WB’s Space Jam: A New Legacy is now on $11.1 million after four weeks, with a weekend result of $243,608, down 72 per cent. Roadshow Films announced today the Looney Tunes sequel will be fast-tracked from cinemas to TVOD, available to buy or rent from August 12.

Five weeks in, Disney’s Black Widow is now on $12.8 million. It too took a tumble, falling 79 per cent with $165,867.

Both three weeks in, Universal horror Old fell 75 per cent with $126,820, taking it $1.3 million, while Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins dropped 81 per cent to $38,591, moving to $683,115.

Universal’s F9 has finally cracked $21 million after eight weekends, earning an extra $29,176.

Rounding out the top 10 was Kismet’s limited release Shiva Baby, which despite the lockdowns held remarkably well in its second, dipping only 27 per cent with $17,126, advancing to $72,618.

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