‘Birds of Prey’ fails box office, not fans

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Sarah Bergin

Warner Bros. has had major success after their critically acclaimed adaptation of “Joker”, gaining them two Academy Awards and a total of $1.72 billion in revenue. After this film was released, “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” was set to soar high above the box office. Feminists everywhere were thrilled that Harley Quinn would be getting the validation she deserves, allowing her to be more than a feminine sidekick to the Joker.

“Birds of Prey” focuses on Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, and her life after the Joker broke up with her. Throughout the film, she meets three other female powerhouses, including Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya. By joining forces, they work together to save a child by overcoming a manipulative master of crime. The film incorporates humor, action and the appropriate amount of chaos in order to convey Quinn’s immaculate character development.

The storyline puts emphasis on Quinn’s Ph.D. in Psychiatry, as well as her ability to be independent. Robbie brings out the soft side in Quinn, showing her not as a villain, but as a hero. The majority of the creative team behind this new and improved version of Quinn primarily consists of women. This explains the costuming, writing, and directing, as none of the characters are meant to be shown in an overly sensualized light. Quinn isn’t fighting for any men this time around—she is there to be herself and to show her true identity. Feminists were quick to share their appreciation for the film by promoting it on social media, applauding the piece for its individualism and diversity. Even though women around the world who identify with Harley Quinn’s story attempted to broadcast the societal themes that it tackles, the film did not do very well. “Girl power” is a heavily present concept, which may have contributed to why it did not do well in the box office.

The budget for this film was $84.5 million. On opening weekend, the motion picture grossed $33 million, the lowest that a DC movie has grossed since “Jonah Hex” in 2010. As of late, “Birds of Prey” has grossed nearly $200 million worldwide, which comes out to be almost a quarter of what “Joker” has made. The disappointing turnout led to outrage from feminist-identifying fans and also caught the attention of certain cinemas around the United States. Many marketers for Warner Bros. believed that the low attendance was because of the name of the film. There were rumors that Warner Bros. would officially change the name from “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” to “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.” While the company did not follow through with this action, many movie theaters did. The rumors allowed the movie to gain more attention, as they were appearing on national news and social media. Despite the popularity of the circulated reports, there was still low turnout at cinemas across the world.

Paramount Pictures released “Sonic the Hedgehog” a week after “Birds of Prey” and proceeded to gross $58 million on opening weekend, almost doubling “Birds of Prey.” Many viewers compared the two films, despite the subject matters being entirely different. Despite the complaints from DC fans, the turnout for “Sonic the Hedgehog” continues to increase, while “Birds of Prey” fails to fly off the ground.

“The reason for ‘Birds of Prey’ grossing less than ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ on its opening weekend might simply be due to the fact that it’s female-led,” University freshman and English major Jayni Nielsen said. “The problem in this situation is not that the movie is female-led, but rather that some men refuse to see a movie simply for that reason. In our society still filled with gender roles, it’s commonly more socially acceptable for women to enjoy masculine things than it is for men to enjoy feminine things. This movie showcases very real situations and emotions that women go through every day in a way that doesn’t feel forced.”

Despite the grossing numbers behind this film, critics tend to love Robbie’s interpretation of Quinn. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has close to an 80 percent approval rating from both the audience and critics. Many reviews state that the film’s storyline is rather scattered, while some reviews say that the dispersed writing accurately shows what it is like to be inside of Quinn’s mind. Additionally, many of the reviews praise the motion picture for its diversity and energy. 

At this point, fans of the motion picture will not be able to salvage what “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” has grossed. This film may mean a great deal towards the ones who saw it, but it won’t survive a sequel. After its downfall at the box office, it is appropriate to predict that Harley Quinn won’t be enough to make money— the Joker’s name has to be attached to it too. It is a shame that this memorable mayhem did not receive the appreciation it deserved, but it certainly did affect those who saw it.