The blockbuster season of the year 2020 has begun, and the first film to truly surprise people was “Bad Boys For Life” which FAR exceeded expectations. In contrast, the first “superhero” film to arrive was Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) and while it was expected to do good at the box office, it didn’t do as good as people thought.
Do it bomb? No, not even close, it got No.1 at the box office according to Deadline and other sources. However, the initial projections stated that it might get anywhere from $50-$50 million domestically and even more than that in the overall international markets. However, it didn’t do that. Its domestic gross was over $33 million (final tally will come on Monday) and internationally it got about $48 million. Bringing its weekend total to a small $81 million.
Now, there’s two ways to look at this (and trust me when I say that EVERYONE in media is looking at this in a negative way). The first way is the negative, it’s easily the lowest of the DC and Marvel films in recent memory, and ties Dark Phoenix (which was very much DOA) for the lowest weekend gross of the last few years for a mainstream superhero film. It even made lower than Green Lantern did a decade back.
The difference though between something like Green Lantern and Dark Phoenix is that those had big budgets. Birds of Prey did not. The movie was very much “grounded” in its abilities and fight scenes (no superpowers), which allowed the film to get made for about $80 million, and even with marketing takes it up to a little over $90 million in many projections.
So that means that the film IS going to make profit. It won’t make as much as other DC/Marvel films, but it’s NOT going to cost Warner Bros money. And if it does what Aquaman does at the box office and has a slow drop-off in regards to box office total, coupled with the upcoming light slate of movies, it could have some serious legs.
The reasoning by the lack of interest is honestly baffling. On one hand, the international markets can be explained by the R-Rating and the Corona Virus outbreak (no one wants to go to films because of the potential for catching the virus). But the domestic market is honestly a head-scratcher. Margot Robbie was a breakout star of Suicide Squad, and “Harley Mania” came from that, she even has her own M-rated series on the DC Universe streaming site. So why that didn’t translate to Birds of Prey is beyond many.
Some think the female-led film didn’t appeal to many, some though calling it “Birds of Prey” took away from the fact that Harley was the star (despite her being all over the trailers). We’ll never truly know the answer.
The only real question now is whether this will affect upcoming DCEU films and whether Warner Bros will take more risks like this. I will say that Wonder Woman 1984 now has a lot of pressure on it.