Despite a slew of positive reviews, Birds of Prey is floundering at the box office. The film had the worst opening for the DCEU yet, breaking the winning streak that Warner Bros. have been on ever since their post-Justice League course correction. It scored just $33 million on its opening weekend, meaning that right now, it’s one of the lowest-grossing comic book movies ever (and is the worst since Jonah Hex).
Clearly, then, Warner Bros. are in damage limitation mode and, in an effort to shore up numbers, decided that the title of the movie needs to change. Though most simply referred to the film as Birds of Prey, its official title is the cumbersome Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Some industry analysts blamed this for the movie’s failure, arguing that the studio should have made sure that Margot Robbie’s popular Harley Quinn was front and center. As such, they’ve renamed the pic Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Fans of the film (of which there are many, because it’s actually pretty good) responded to the change on Twitter, and it seems there’s a bit of confusion as some feel it’s a good move while others don’t see why the studio did it.
LMAO – #BirdsOfPrey is performing so terribly at the box office that WB is changing the title of the movie WHILE IT’S IN THEATERS in a desperate attempt to boost sales on Harley’s name
What a shit show
— Fathead (@DonalTDeLay) February 11, 2020
Most are just calling it Birds of Prey. I honestly don’t think a title change is gonna so a damn thing. #BOP
— Mike Snyder (@TheMikeSnyder) February 11, 2020
Well let's face it: it IS a Harley Quinn movie more than a Birds of Prey movie. The title change may be silly, but at least it's accurate now.
— Matt Sutton (@scruffymatt42) February 11, 2020
Birds of Prey is getting a title change even though its already in cinemas. Shame its bombed because it is the best movie in the DCEU.
— Robert Danylkiw (@RDanylkiw) February 11, 2020
The old title was much more creative. And even if they wanted to change it, why not change it to Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey?
Idk but either way this is disappointing. https://t.co/n6jbDZDAP5
— ♕ jaelyn ♕ (@darlasdudley) February 11, 2020
All I Ask Is That BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN doesn’t change it’s title a 3rd time when it hits Home Video.
But if You Must Retitle, change it to “HARLEY QUINN X BIRDS OF PREY: ALL YOU NEED IS EGG SANDWICHES”.
— Jacob ”Zice033: Podcast and Pinball Wizard" Miller (@JacobMiller033) February 11, 2020
I don't like the title change but I'll support anything that gives them better marketing. I just got out of seeing it and it's definitely a Birds of Prey movie. I'm hoping the next BOP movie doesn't include Harley at all and lets them have their own spotlight.
— Bryon Butler (@TheButlerDunnit) February 11, 2020
I'm a little bit disappointed in Warner. First, they undermarket Birds Of Prey and then they decide to change the title of the movie in order to get people into seats. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is a shit title though.
— LB (@Dareedevokl_) February 11, 2020
Huge bummer that no one is going to see Birds of Prey, it’s fantastic…maybe the title change will help? Now called…Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Who knows, but comic fans should be supporting this movie more #BirdsOfPrey #harleyquinn pic.twitter.com/jNyMS0N9u8
— Scene Invaders (@SceneInvaders) February 11, 2020
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So, the general mood is disappointment that Birds of Prey isn’t doing well and pessimism that this change will help. Apparently, what’s really hurting the movie is its R-rating, with THR reporting that while the marketing and characters appeal to teenage audiences, most of them are restricted from seeing it. So, who knows, if the movie continues to tank, maybe we’ll see a new PG-13 cut released to try and seize upon that interest?
Another factor that’s rumored to be affecting box office is the coronavirus outbreak, which has caused audiences at cinemas to plummet in Asia. The film doesn’t have an official release in China, but fear of being in enclosed, busy areas is impacting moviegoing across the continent.
In any case, let’s hope Birds of Prey finds its legs, as it’d be a shame if Warner Bros. took the wrong lessons from its underperformance.