Harley Quinn in “Birds of Prey” (Warner Bros./Courtesy)
Set after the events of the 2016 DC film “Suicide Squad,” Ms. Quinn (Margot Robbie), fresh on the dating scene, finds herself on the run from the mob boss Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). She makes a few friends on the way in what Forbes referred to as a “very fun movie with lots of laughs and some almost cartoony fight scenes that are a lot of fun.” But why did it do so poorly in its opening weekend?
“Birds of Prey” debuted on Feb. 7 and by the end of the weekend only pulled in about $33 million in the US, which came short of the $55 million Warner Bros. and it’s investors spent to produce the film. It also failed to match the $45 million it was projected to fetch within its debut weekend.
Even “Suicide Squad,” in which Harley Quinn was also a part of, was a huge failure in the theaters and received an immense amount of criticism still raked in $133 million during its opening weekend.
DC is no stranger to box office bombs, but “Birds of Prey” was expected to perform well. It got an overall warm review from critics and was centered around Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn which was one of the only well received aspects to come out of “Suicide Squad.”
After the disappointing launch to the film DC and Warner Bros. decided to tweak the name and change it from “Birds of Prey (and the Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” to “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.” The decision to change the name of the movie and predominantly display Harley Quinn’s name in the title was seen as almost a last ditch effort to get people into the theater.
Industry insiders were left puzzled when Quinn’s name was left out of the title in the beginning, since her name carries so much recognition and the movie is centered around her. The original title, “Birds of Prey” didn’t cause as much of an impact on the market.
In an interview with the Verge, a Warner Bros. rep clarified the name change was to make the title easier on the search engines so it was easier for people to find the movie and movie theaters to display the name.
There are many other theories and explanations as to why Ms. Quinn’s solo movie didn’t live up to the expectations many had. One argument for its lackluster performance was the R-rating. But many have pointed to DC’s “The Joker” which became the highest grossing R-rated film of all time.
Another blames the “Captain Marvel” effect. Just like Marvel’s superhero movie with a female lead, many were quick to judge the movie before it even hit theaters claiming it was just pushing a “woke female agenda.” But again, on the other hand, DC’s own “Wonder Woman” which pulled in over $821 million.
With the power house that is Robbie’s performance as the “maid of mischief” and the rest of the star studded ensemble, maybe the more consumer friendly name change will change the fate of the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn.