With coronavirus rising, ‘The Suicide Squad’ opens softly

NEW YORK (AP) — Moviegoing, once expected to be closer to semi-normal levels by now, continues to be battered by the pandemic, the delta variant of the coronavirus and in-home streaming.

The latest casualty: James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” a critically acclaimed, carnage-ridden would-be smash that disappointed with $26.5 million in estimated ticket sales. The Warner Bros.

film, which was released simultaneously on HBO Max, could claim one pandemic record: the top R-rated opening.

But “The Suicide Squad,” featuring the “Guardians of the Galaxy” director’s first DC Comics film, had seemed poised to be a bigger hit — and may have been if the delta variant wasn’t keeping a lot of moviegoers home.