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'Birds of Prey'...What Happened?

By Matt Chieco

‘Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’ underperformed during its opening weekend, earning only $33 million. Regrettably, this places it with the worst DC opening numbers since 2010’s ‘Jonah Hex’. In contrast, other R-rated comic book movies have achieved significant success at the box office. Marvel’s ‘Deadpool’ earned over $130 million in its opening weekend in 2015, and DC’s ‘Joker’ earned over $90 million during its opening weekend in 2019. So, what went wrong? Was it the movie's rating, the marketing, or something else?

Just days prior to its release, everything appeared positive for the newest addition to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). ‘Birds of Prey’ received a certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (still maintaining an 80% score), a B+ CinemaScore, and widespread positive word of mouth across social media platforms. The box office projections leading into the opening weekend were in the range of $50 to $55 million. However, things took an unexpected turn, leaving Warner Bros. now grappling to address the issue. The question remains: will their efforts to rectify the situation potentially exacerbate the problem?

Following the opening weekend, Warner Bros. made a change to the title of the movie displayed in theaters. It transformed from 'Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)' to 'Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey'. The studio is leveraging the name recognition of the iconic comic book character in a bid to attract a broader audience.

With hope, audiences will consider watching the film before the studio makes further alterations (and indeed, it's worth a viewing). ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’ is currently in theaters.

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