The resurgent DCEU suffered a setback recently when Birds of Prey fell victim to a disappointing opening at the box office, coming in almost $20 million below even the most pessimistic of studio estimates. It marked the lowest debut in the franchise by far, standing well behind Shazam!’s $53.5 million bow, and marked the worst opening weekend for any DC property since infamous flop Jonah Hex raked in a meager $5.3 million a decade ago.
This instantly sent Warner Bros. into damage control mode, with the studio hastily renaming the movie as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey in an attempt to piggyback off the popularity of Margot Robbie’s performances as the fan-favorite character, drawing plenty of ire in the process. But after nearly three weeks in theaters, the comic book team-up has still only managed to earn a little over $150 million globally.
Despite scoring strong reviews, with Cathy Yan’s ensemble flick currently at a 78% Rotten Tomatoes rating, there didn’t seem to be much of an appetite from audiences to see Birds of Prey, despite DC and Warner Bros.’ confidence that they were sitting on another hit after the reshoots helmed by John Wick’s Chad Stahelski reportedly hugely improved the movie, and ultimately convinced the studio to make it R-rated.
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It seems as though Birds of Prey bombing has sent WB into a panic, too, because we’re now hearing that James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad could be forced into a PG-13 rating in order to maximize the sequel’s chances of box office success. According to our intel – which comes from the same sources that told us that Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller would be returning for the movie, Kevin Conroy was playing Kingdom Come Batman in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and Diana will have her golden eagle armor in Wonder Woman 1984, all of which turned out to be true – Warner Bros. are now re-thinking their strategy of making certain DCEU projects R-rated and TSS is one of those projects.
Sure, Joker may have earned over a billion dollars and scored Academy Awards success, but that wasn’t a part of the interconnected franchise, and following Birds of Prey‘s disappointment, the studio no longer want to alienate their younger fans by producing adult-orientated DCEU content. Warner Bros.’ reasoning behind the decision is that David Ayer’s Suicide Squad was rated PG-13 and made almost $750 million worldwide, and they’re expecting Gunn’s follow-up to at least come close to those numbers.
With The Suicide Squad currently in the midst of shooting, there’s likely already a lot of R-rated content in the bag, and if WB definitely wants the movie to skew younger, then the gang of antiheroes could be set for reshoots of their own in order to tone down the violence and profanity that Gunn and his team have no doubt got cooked up. But again, nothing is for certain right now and from what we understand, the studio is simply considering toning things down. It could still end up with an R-rating, but after what happened with Birds of Prey, don’t be surprised if they go the other way.