'The Suicide Squad' failed at the box office. Anti-vaxxers own a lot of the blame. - MrLiambi's blog

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Monday, 9 August 2021

'The Suicide Squad' failed at the box office. Anti-vaxxers own a lot of the blame.

'The Suicide Squad' opened in theaters and for streaming on HBO Max on Aug. 6.

Here we go again.

Just when it seemed like Hollywood was successfully creeping back to theaters, a resurgent COVID-19 is here to smack us back into the grim reality of a debilitating pandemic. The Suicide Squad, which opened Friday, earned around $27 million in North America â€" a low number for a star-studded DC superhero movie directed by Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn. Especially given the stellar reviews from critics and audiences alike.

We can't discount other factors that may have been at play, of course. The Suicide Squad started streaming for HBO Max's ad-free subscribers the same day it hit theaters, and it did quite well there. Maybe some people were also turned off by the R-rating, or the uneven quality of DC Comics movies from Warner Bros., especially since the unconnected 2016 take on Suicide Squad was such a mess.

But let's be real, folks: People are scared. The same loud-mouthed anti-vax movement in the U.S. that's fueled embarrassingly low vaccination rates in some parts of the country, and in the process helped COVID's Delta variant gain a foothold, carries most of the responsibility for any disruption to our stumbling recovery.

I'd say that's the main reason why theaters didn't fill up for The Suicide Squad the way they did for F9 and Black Widow. The fear is back. After a hopeful stretch of weeks, grim headlines and rising case numbers are influencing consumer behavior, even though returning lockdowns and mask mandates are still a scattered patchwork of city- and county-level decisions.

Box office reports are about numbers, right? So let's look at some numbers.

On Aug. 6, the day The Suicide Squad opened, a whopping 168,343 new cases were reported in the United States. That brought the 7-day average case count up to 106,723. The last time we saw numbers like that was in Nov. 2020, as cases started to rise sharply ahead of a deadly 2020/2021 winter.

That stretch of months, from Nov. 2020 through early Feb. 2021, was the worst phase of COVID in the U.S. so far. So seeing the numbers creep back up into that territory now, at a time when responsible citizens who masked up all along and got their jabs expected to be returning to some semblance of "normal" life, is alarming.

Theater chains should move to immediately institute vaccine mandates, with proof required.

In recent weeks we've seen a series of compounding backward steps. Back-to-office plans are being delayed. Mask mandates are coming back. Even some who adamantly opposed masking requirements are seeing sense and accepting reality. There's a reason Paramount moved just days ahead of The Suicide Squad's premiere to delay Clifford the Big Red Dog's September release.

A July poll found that, among U.S. adults who aren't yet vaccinated, a combined 80 percent of that number "probably" or "definitely" won't get jabbed. Nearly two-thirds of unvaccinated adults â€" a stunning 64 percent â€" describe themselves as "not confident" that the vaccines offer protection against the variants, in spite of ample evidence that they do.

The inescapable conclusion after looking all the data is that vaccine hesitancy is propelling the ongoing and increasing spread of COVID. The anti-vax movement existed long before the current pandemic, but its adherents have been energized by a brutally partisan political environment that's turned proven lifesaving measures into a subject of debate.

While some have valid medical reasons for skipping their jabs â€" a decision that should be made after consulting your doctor, to be clear â€" many of the justifications that have been offered for forgoing the vaccine simply don't hold water. A lot of this goes back to the tribal state of U.S. politics, and, frankly, the conservative news networks that have directly influenced vaccine hesitancy.

It might seem odd to put all of this weight on a single blockbuster comic book movie, but really, that's the point here. When we fail as a society to seize an opportunity that could have cut off a rampaging pandemic, it's all the little things and experiences â€" like the much-hyped movie you really want to see â€" that suffer.

With any luck, Hollywood and theater exhibitors both will heed the lessons of the past year and half, and act early. The industry is hardly powerless. Mask requirements are, of course, a no-brainer. But theater chains could â€" and absolutely should â€" also move to immediately institute vaccine mandates, with proof required, for all attendees, instead of relying on local officials to make that choice for them.

There would probably be some anger, but so what? The anger is already here, and things are getting worse all over again. Vaccine holdouts, particularly the ones who are operating in bad faith for political reasons, aren't going to get their jabs until it's painful for them to go without. For everyone's safety, it's time to stop catering to that crowd and time to start forcing people to face the reality that reckless behavior has consequences.

That's why we can't talk about The Suicide Squad falling short at the box office without talking about COVID, too. For any other factors that may have influenced the weak opening, we can't ignore the critical role anti-vaxxers have played in sending U.S. society hurtling once again into the dark abyss of a resurgent and rampaging pandemic.



Source : http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/KFVOfBuTfAQ/suicide-squad-box-office-anti-vaxxers-covid-delta

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