When is a hit movie not a hit? When the people that love it fit in a 15 passenger van with seats left over. This seems to be the case with Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. The Birds of Prey box office came in well short of even low projections.
Opening word of mouth was largely positive for the latest DCEU film, yet it only managed an opening box office weekend of $33 million. This is $20 million below the previous low opening of $53.5 million from Shazaam! With a budget of $85 million, the movie won’t “lose money”, but it’s not sitting pretty either. In fact the studio just changed the name from the long title above to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Birds of Prey had huge opening weekend buzz and even sits well today with a Rotten Tomato rating 80/81 amongst critics and audiences. The movie sat in the 90s for most the weekend. Cinemascore scores the film as a B+ with audiences, so people are liking the movie. The problem looks to be that while people may be liking the film, not enough people are spending the dough to go see the film.
Birds of Prey Box Office: Harley Who?
Harley Quinn started out as a throw away character on a Batman cartoon. After a couple of episodes, she became a huge hit and became Mr J’s right hand woman. Her popularity grew from there, and now she appears on shirts, merchandise as her own solo comic away from Mr J. Guys lover her because she is badass and hot. Women can follow her because she is female, strong and now independent. So where is everybody?
Her story type rivals that of Marvel’s Deadpool. She is quite violent, has one hell of a mouth, and is known to break the fourth wall and talks to audiences. Her eccentricities may be a turn off for the average movie goer that does not know her.
Did The Ad Campaign Do Enough?
I am a huge fan of Harley and enjoy her comic book, but did the ad campaigns do enough to sell her to common audience goers? Commercials and trailers showed Harley’s wild punk side, and they played up her uncontrollable side. The problem is most people do not identify with characters like this.
Also, while most of other supporting cast received praise for their parts, in the trailers showed them as two dimensional colorless characters. Non-DC fans won’t know Huntress or Canary by name and they lacked their trademark looks. Ewan once again delivers a great performance, but most people do not know who Black Mask is. As wild and crazy as Harley is by nature, the trailers should have done more to put a “normal” spin on the movie, explaining the plot a bit more.
Birds of Prey Box Office: How Important Is Box Office?
Movies have categories. Star Wars, Avengers, and movies like this are expected to hit $1 billion or more. In fact, Rise of Skywalker sits at $1.064 billion globally, yet this is seen as a disappointment. Summer blockbusters usually hit $50-70 million or they fail. $35 million sucks for a movie from the comic universe, but in the end will it matter?
The Dark Crystal bombed. Shawshank Redemption did terribly. The Wizard of Oz was rejected. Birds of Prey feels like a movie that may not do well at the box office, but due to its nature will become a cult classic with a long life post theater run.
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