‘Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn’ (despite being a mouthful) had for it every stone set in place- a booming 80% Fresh rating and 84 % audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, strong reviews and little-to-no- competition from the ticket booths- to make a grand opening in its weekend release. Yet, we found the movie tinkering off with a slow, rocky start with significantly lower box office numbers than anticipated.
While Warner Bros. was finally back on steadier ground with DCEU, soaring height through 2019 with its Global box office stars- Joker and Aquaman, it was surprising, albeit disappointing, to see that the Suicide Squad follow-up couldn’t take off as splendidly as expected. It bagged a disappointing $33.2 million opening at the North American box office this weekend as opposed to initial predictions of $50-55 million.
Every film since Suicide Squad has opened to at least $10 million less than its predecessor, setting a trend of diminishing first weekends that has put the franchise in quite a pickle. The movie dropped by the greatest percentage ever- more than 38%. In fact, it had a worse opening weekend than the poorly-received Green Lantern which had managed to muster $53.1 million.
While trying to gauge what held this movie back from its box office success, many believe it’s because the movie is R-rated, cutting off a younger crowd who make up for a large chunk of Harley Quinn‘s fanbase. Other sources also suggest that the Coronavirus outbreak in South-east Asia has brought down the numbers of moviegoers in a market the company was heavily counting on. Some even show concern over the release in February (deemed as the dumping ground of cinematic releases with very few exceptions) and inadept, mixed marketing which probably fell short in appealing to audiences unfamiliar with the Birds of Prey Comics.
However, it is not a lost cause yet. The problem with Birds of Prey lies not with the movie itself- a bad combination of a ill-timed release date, some confused marketing, and inadequate understanding of their built-in audience stunted it from mounting high.
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