The Warner comic book movie Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) laid a big ol’ egg at the box office this weekend. The R-rated spinoff of 2016’s Suicide Squad opened to the lowest numbers of any DC Films production since 2010’s Jonah Hex.
Despite the backing of the nation’s critics -81% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 60/100 from Metacritic- as well as the comic book movie devout, the $100 million Birds of Prey failed to take flight at 4,236 theaters this weekend. The best the Cathy Yan feature could muster was an estimated $33.2 million. How underwhelming are those numbers? Bird’s opening weekend total was $6 million lower than the opening day for Joker.
What killed the Harley Quinn spinoff starring Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor? God-awful title aside, the main culprit would be the film’s marketing campaign. It. Sucked. In order for a genre film –especially one that’s R-rated- to really take off, it has to appeal to people outside of its targeted demographic. When studios do and do it successfully, you get box office blockbusters like Joker, Logan or the two Deadpool films. When you don’t, and you go whole hog with horrid trailers and television ads with very limited appeal -as Warner has done here-, your film doesn’t look appealing. It looks appalling.
Being connected to what many consider to be the worst comic book movie since Batman and Robin -that being David Ayer’s cinematic war crime known as Suicide Squad– was another nail in Birds’ box office coffin. No matter how good Birds of Prey may be -and no matter how little it may have to actually do with Squad-, Prey is still connected to that inexplicable 2016 box office hit and that is more than enough for many to say “no thanks.” So with the lingering stink of Squad on it and studio and critical support turning out to be a bust, Birds will have to solely rely on its fanbase to even think of reaching the $100 million mark in North America.
The box office cold shoulder Birds of Prey experienced this weekend wasn’t exclusive just to North America. Harley and her gal pals set sail in 78 international markets this past Wednesday and could only muster a soft $48 million. The last market for the film will be Japan, which opens the film on March 20th.
While the girls of Prey didn’t deliver, the boys of Sony’s Bad Boys For Life continued to do so in second place. Dipping a moderate 32% in its fourth weekend on 3,530 screens, Bad Boys 3 earned an estimated $12 million. One month into its theatrical release, Smith and Lawrence have delivered a great $166.3 million in North America and an additional $170 million from overseas.
In third place with an estimated $9 million from 3,548 theaters was Oscar frontrunner 1917. Down only 5% in its seventh weekend, the acclaimed Sam Mendes war drama has brought in $132.5 million so far. Should the film take home the Best Picture Oscar tonight, 1917 could finish its box office campaign with an excellent $165 million. Overseas, 1917 has earned $158 million so far.
Still hanging on in fourth place was Universal’s Dolittle with $6.66 million from 3,462 theaters. Down only 12%, the pricey family flick has brought in $64 million after one month of release. Foreign grosses for the Robert Downey Jr. flick stand at $94 million.
Rounding out the top five was Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level with $5.5 million from 2,729 theaters. With $298 million in the bank after nine weekends, The Next Level is powering up to finish with close to $315 million in the bank.
- The Gentlemen (STX) $4.1 million (-25%); $26.8 million
- Gretel & Hansel(UA) $3.5 million (-43%); $11.5 million
- Knives Out (Lionsgate) $2.35 million (-9%); $159 million
- Little Women (Sony) $2.32 million (-24%); $102 million
- Star Wars/Skywalker (Disney) $2.22 million (-31%); $510.5 million
Next weekend, Hollywood says “We love you!” via three new films that open on Valentine’s Day: Fantasy Island, The Photograph and Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic should race over Birds of Prey to become the nation’s new number one film by next Sunday.