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James Gunn: Movies Last Because They’re Seen on Television, Not in the Movie Theater

Gunn said "I’m not going to go slit my wrists" if people choose to stream "The Suicide Squad" over going to the movie theater.

Idris Elba and James Gunn on "The Suicide Squad" set

Idris Elba and James Gunn on “The Suicide Squad” set

Jessica Miglio /© Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squadunderwhelmed at the box office this weekend (despite estimates it could cross $30 million, it only earned $26.5 million), but HBO Max chief Andy Forssell told The Hollywood Reporter that the R-rated DC Comics tentpole became “the second most viewed film over an opening weekend on HBO Max since we began day-and-date releases with theaters.” Like all of Warner Bros.’ films released in 2021, “The Suicide Squad” launched in theaters the same day it became available to stream on HBO Max for 31 days. How does Gunn feel about his film debuting on a streaming service? “I don’t really care that much,” the director recently told Variety.

“I really just care about whatever the project is in front of me,” Gunn said. “‘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 theaters. I’ve never seen ‘Jaws’ in a movie theater. It’s one of my favorite movies.”

Gunn is next moving to television with HBO Max’s “Peacemaker” series, a continuation of his “Suicide Squad” movie that centers on John Cena’s eponymous character. The filmmaker told Variety that working on the “Peacemaker” series taught him that he can be equally happy working in TV as he can making movies.

“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,” Gunn said. “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. And if that’s the case, what’s going to happen? We don’t know. 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.”

“The Suicide Squad” is now streaming on HBO Max and playing in theaters.

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