Birds of Prey may have taken the top spot at the US box office this weekend past, but it flew in way under expectations with a domestic opening of just $33.35 million. Not only was that around $12 million short of studio predictions, but it was also the lowest opening for any modern DC Comics movie since Man of Steel kicked off the DCEU in 2013. This despite the fact that it’s been praised by both critics and audiences alike, with both respective approval scores sitting on 81% on RottenTomatoes.
So what went wrong? Various reasons have been tossed out so far: Lacklustre trailers not selling the film’s excellent R-rated action, the actual R-rating holding away younger fans, very late review embargoes resulting in very little buzz, its association with the reviled Suicide Squad, people not actually knowing what Birds of Prey is about.
That last is seemingly the important bit, which Warner Bros is now looking to actually do something about… by renaming the movie. ComicBook.com was the first to notice that US cinema chains have started billing the movie as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, before Screenrant confirmed that the change was done under the instructions of WB. It’s unclear if this new name will be rolled out globally, but I wouldn’t be surprised. And it makes a whole lot of sense.
The film’s original mouthful of a title, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), may have been great at generating headlines when it was first announced, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Not only does it put the name of Margot Robbie’s massively popular Harley Quinn right at the end, but it’s so long that most people just shorten it to Birds of Prey. Which makes sense given that’s the name of the comic book where most of the film’s heroines are from.
The problem is that this isn’t a Birds of Prey movie. Not really. It’s a Harley Quinn movie through and through with the Birds of Prey (Jurnee Smollet-Bell’s Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress, and Rosie Perez’s Renee Montoya) as a supporting cast. And now the movie’s title actually reflects that. Also, it doesn’t hurt that this actually links closer to an actual comic that featured Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey and used the exact same team of the movie (So why didn’t they just go with this in the first place?!).
Is this enough to turn around the film’s fortunes? Well, the jury is most definitely still out on that one. What is more certain though is that those people that actually saw the movie this weekend past (who I will suspect are the built-in fans who didn’t need convincing from trailers and booked their tickets early regardless) will be spreading the positive buzz over the coming weeks. Weeks in which there won’t be much in the way of major competition outside of Sonic the Hedgehog. Hopefully, that, along with the new name, can give Birds of Prey some new wings.
Last Updated: February 11, 2020